Public schools turn away poor kids everyday

ACCESS to basic education is a fundamental constitutional right. The broader framework of this right is dealt with by the South African School's Act.

Fundamental to accessing education is the regulation dealing with the exemption of indigent parents from paying school fees. The regulation aims to ensure that parents who are in financial difficulty do not compromise their children's education.

According to this regulation, a child who is on the social assistance programme is exempted from paying fees in a public school.

The reality is very different.

Children on social assistance are still faced with the challenge of having to pay from the social grants that are meant to ensure that they do not go hungry .

Parents who earn very little or face financial difficulty are also entitled to apply for exemption, but everydayour public schools turn away children who cannot pay.

Very concerning is the fact that public schools require poor people to pay registration and school fees when the Schools Act clearly states that no pupil may be refused admission.

The issue of basic education needs to be viewed in the context of being responsible citizens who have an interest in the future of our children.

It could be your barefooted child enjoying winter's sunlight during school hours because he or she has been denied a fundamental right.

Before we ponder ways of improving our education system, let us ensure that we begin with the first step of ensuring that the children we muse about are in the classroom.

The education department must take the lead.

Lwazi Mtshiyo, Marshalltown