Fuming parents vow to disrupt schools' first day

'We can't pay for stationery in no-fee schools'

Mandla Khoza Freelance journalist
Mpumalanga parents are up in arms a no-fee school is asking them to buy stationery.
Mpumalanga parents are up in arms a no-fee school is asking them to buy stationery.
Image: 123RF/Pay Less Images

Many parents whose children go to no-fee schools in Mpumalanga have been left dejected after the education department decided to ration stationery supply this year.

The schools have given parents stationery lists to buy the outstanding supply for their kids. The provincial department said they have trimmed the learner material supply because of an advice from curriculum experts.  

Parents are also threatening to disrupt the schools when they reopen on Tuesday if the department does not give them additional supplies. 

A mother of three Thabo Mahlalela said she is facing a R2,300 bill to buy extra books and learner material for her kid at Cathuza Primary  School

"My list says I must buy four 2-quires, four Typek paper bundles, and 72-page of exercise books. For all these four children that means I will be paying about R2,300 which I do not have. That means the department is saying my children will not move to another grade if they do not have the things on the list," she said.

Dorah Phiri, a parent, said she was very disappointed that she would have to spend over R1,000 for her son who is in grade 12 at Mshadza Secondary School in White River. 

"They also want R150 to pay a security guard. I do not have that money. Today (Monday) my son went to school they didn't help him as parents were making noise and they had to stop assisting them. What about the free education which we were promised," asked Phiri. 

Interim chairperson of School Governing Bodies Rasheed Matola they are going to stop the first day of school tomorrow if the department did not reverse its decision. 

"This is pure corruption; how can you say education is free and have no-fee schools and yet you want parents to buy books some of which total are more than R2,000? If there's no longer free education they must just say," Matola said.

"Parents in these rural schools are very poor and many people lost jobs during Covid-19. For this we are willing and promising that if the department continues to do this and not give learners books there will be no schooling on Wednesday."  

Departmental spokesperson Jasper Zwane said: "The learner and teaching support material has been trimmed to ensure that every subject is catered for and to ensure that there is no wastage. This was done following the guidelines provided by the Departmental Curriculum experts. The stationery was delivered to almost all schools in November 2022.

He said they are not anticipating any victimisation of learners because their parents didn't buy extra materials. 

"The position of the department is that there must be no learner who may be victimised or discriminated from school activities on the basis that his /her parents could not afford to pay for such additional material," said Zwane.

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