Around 13million fee-free schools and five million pupils are set to benefit from 2007 school year funding

South Africa's no-fees schools have been allocated R2.95billion for the 2007 school year, according to Education Minister Naledi Pandor.

South Africa's no-fees schools have been allocated R2.95billion for the 2007 school year, according to Education Minister Naledi Pandor.

Replying to a parliamentary question from the Democratic Alliance's George Boinamo, Pandor reported that the funding would go to 13901 schools and just over five million pupils.

Asked if there was any gap in funding between the announcement of the policy and the transfer of the budgeted funds for the 2007/08 financial year, the minister said that there was no gap in funding.

"Provinces transfer funds to schools on April 1 - the start of the financial year - for the next 12 months," she said.

"Under normal circumstances the lack of alignment of the financial year with the school year does not lead to a funding gap if schools' budgets are spent responsibly. However, with the introduction of a large number of new no-fee schools a funding gap was anticipated," Pandor said.

"Normally these schools would have used school fees to supplement their provincial funding. Therefore, steps were taken to transfer bridging amounts to new no-fee schools either in December 2006 or early in 2007, " she said.

"Currently only one province has reported that it did not have funding available to make these initial bridging transfers and the matter is being followed up," she added, but did not name the province.

Asked if the risk of regional offices going into overdraft as a result of delays in the transfer of funds for fee-free schools was taken into consideration in the planning for the transfer of this money, the minister said: "Regional offices do not administer funds. Funds are transferred from provincial education departments directly to the bank accounts of section-21 schools and the provincial treasuries administer allocations to non-section-21 schools." - I-Net Bridge

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