Lesson for parents: You will still have to pay private school ...

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Lesson for parents: You will still have to pay private school fees

Schools have to continue invoicing for education online or through study packs, says the association

Journalist
The Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa says the only service not being offered by educational institutions is sport.
Virtually reality The Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa says the only service not being offered by educational institutions is sport.
Image: Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

Pupils at most of the country’s private schools are receiving lessons online during the lockdown, but their tuition fees will not be reduced.

Lebogang Montjane, executive director of the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (Isasa), said its lawyers had indicated that parents were still obliged to pay in full, even though their children were being taught remotely.

Isasa represents 850 schools in SA and Southern Africa, the majority of which are local and include Hilton College, Michaelhouse and Kearsney in KwaZulu-Natal, and St John’s College in Gauteng.

Montjane said the only difference was that learning was taking place in virtual classrooms instead of classrooms at school.

“Teachers are interacting with students. There’s a combination of live lessons and work that must be submitted electronically, which is issued to learners by teachers.

“My niece in grade 000 is doing her painting and puzzles, and interacts with her teacher. She’s got music and dancing that she does, so everything she used to do at school is now happening at home,” Montjane said.

“Videos are uploaded and the teacher looks at her work and gives feedback.”

He said the only thing schools were not offering was sport.

There may be rebates in terms of boarding fees, but schools will have to figure that out by the end of the academic year.
Lebogang Montjane

Low-fee schools that were not offering tuition online were advised to provide study packs to pupils to take home.

“Isasa is very clear that schools have to continue invoicing parents for education online or through the provision of packs.”

According to him, a school in KwaZulu-Natal had proposed not charging tuition fees “until they know what is happening with Covid-19”.

“There may be rebates in terms of boarding fees, but schools will have to figure that out by the end of the academic year.”

Nwabisa Piki, spokesperson for AdvTech, confirmed that pupils attending its schools would still have to pay the normal tuition fees as “we are not anticipating losing any teaching days due to the restructured calendar”.

AdvTech has 99 schools in the country, including 26 Crawford schools and 24 Trinityhouse schools.

Piki said the company had been prepared for digital/online learning for a long time.

“While this learning might not take place in brick and mortar structures in coming weeks, the curriculum remains the same and all our academic and teaching staff continue to work. In fact, even harder than before.”

She said her organisation was well placed to deliver and complete the curriculum for the year.

“We would not be charging boarding fees for the period when pupils are not in residence.”

We would not be charging boarding fees for the period when pupils are not in residence.
Nwabisa Piki

Mari Lategan, spokesperson for Curro, said as learning would continue throughout the year, “billing will also continue as per contractual agreements”.

“While schools remain closed, we are equipped for learning to continue via a remote and online learning strategy. This strategy comes over and above the learners’ regular education approach and will serve as a ‘double educational benefit’ for learners.”

She said teachers and pupils had access to a set of digital tools to facilitate remote and online learning while schools remained closed.

Meanwhile, St John’s College in Johannesburg told parents on Thursday that some short-term measures that were being implemented to cut costs included putting on hold new building projects and delaying new staff appointments “where possible”.

Parents whose accounts were up to date and wanted to negotiate alternative payment arrangements were encouraged to contact the school.

“The school shall require evidence from parents of either a loss of income or cash flow constraints to qualify,” said a letter cosigned by Claire Höck, chairperson of the school’s council, and the institution’s principal, Stuart West.