Parents and schools, put pupils first
The national lockdown was always going to cause enormous disruption to all aspects of our lives, including the 2020 academic year.
Schools and parents across the country are grappling with how to assist pupils to catch up on work missed in the few weeks that there has been no teaching and learning due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Those with digital resources have turned to online platforms to replace physical classrooms.
It is therefore concerning that at this time, there are some schools wanting to bar children whose fees are outstanding from their online learning portal.
Yesterday, we reported that St Patrick's CBC school in Kimberley wanted pupils who owe school fees to be blocked from the school's online learning platform.
In a letter on April 3, the school urged parents to pay up and those who could not, to make arrangements.
This week some parents were informed that their children would be blocked from the service because they had not paid fees, nor had they made what the school believes are acceptable arrangements for payment.
Parents are upset, in particular those whose income has been affected by the lockdown.
Granted, the school is a private entity and its functionality - even remotely - depends on the income it receives from fees.
Furthermore, let us be clear that all parents must endeavour to pay school fees, especially those who can afford to do so.
It is also unquestionably the responsibility of parents to approach the school to make payment arrangements when they are unable to pay up as required.
However, giving parents who are financially struggling two weeks to come up with a sound payment plan which they can honour, or have their children academically excluded, is unfair.
Such prohibition induces unnecessary anxiety and trauma on children who have no control of the unpredictable situation in which we all find ourselves.
We call on both schools and parents to exercise a greater level of cooperation to find alternative ways of managing this crisis, placing above everything, the interests of all children.
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