toilet paper

Despite a 0% increase, school fees are still not being paid. Image: Pixabay

Premier Eastern Cape school can’t afford toilet paper for its pupils

A former ‘Model C’ boys school in the Eastern Cape is in such dire financial straits that it cannot afford toilet paper for its pupils.

toilet paper

Despite a 0% increase, school fees are still not being paid. Image: Pixabay

A communication sent out to parents of learners at Dale College Boys’ Primary School in Qonce in the Eastern Cape paints a grim picture around school fees.

On 21 February, the school’s governing body chairperson, Sinethemba Tsipa, reached out to parents requesting that their sons bring their own toilet paper to school.

A follow-up communication was then sent out by the school’s principal, breaking down Dale Junior’s current financial situation.

“Due to the dire financial situation, which the school finds itself in at the moment, we have run out of toilet paper and we are unable to purchase more at this stage,” Tsipa’s statement read.

“Therefore, we are requesting that each boy please bring his OWN roll of toilet paper to school and to use ONLY HIS OWN toilet paper.

“Boys should carry their roll to the toilet and then keep their toilet paper in their bags. Please replenish when your son has finished his roll.

“We apologise for the inconvenience, but this is due to circumstances beyond our control.”

A wider money problem

The financial woes of Dale College Boys’ Primary reflect a wider problem in South African education – the non-payment of school fees by parents.

The difficulties encountered by Dale College Boys’ Primary are said to be a microcosm of the economic struggles prevalent in many communities in South Africa.

Parents’ inability to afford school fees is said to stem from wider economic issues such as unemployment and underemployment.

This financial strain leaves schools like Dale College unable to meet essential expenses, affecting not only pupils but teachers as well.

“Please note that we have already stopped the supply of tea, coffee, milk, sugar and toilet paper and stationery to the staff,” Tsipa added.

Following the release of Tsipa’s statement, Dale Junior supporters requested that a detailed statement be released concerning the financial situation of the school.

On 23 February, Dale Junior principal Ms P. Thatcher attempted to answer these requests with a communication that included a balance sheet of the school’s current budget.

“The projected school fee budget for 2024 has not been met due to poor school fee payment,” Thatcher’s statement read.

“The rate of non-payment has been ever-increasing over the years, with the 2023 school year being the worst to date. Unfortunately, the 2024 budget was not approved at the end of 2023, so we entered a new year with no budget.”

Thatcher went on to say that a third budget meeting was held on Friday, 26 January, where the proposed 2024 budget was still not accepted but that a decision was made by the parents to use the 2023 figures.

Despite a 0% increase, school fees are still not being paid at Dale Junior.

“This situation is not due to the mismanagement of funds, as has been insinuated on some forums, but it is a direct result of non-payment of school fees,” she added.

Only 12% of school fees paid

Thatcher says an amount of R 4 095 342.32 is in the process of being handed over for unpaid 2023 school fees, made up of 263 accounts (representing around 88% of the school’s pupils.)

A summary of the cash flow at Dale Junior for January 2024 was included in the communication, reflecting a total income of R1 377 993.91, with expenses totalling R1 526 289.88.

This results in a net loss of R148 296 going into 2024.

The school was also unable to purchase much-needed textbooks, while an overdue amount of R119 906.52 is still owed to Buffalo City Municipality.

Charity has ‘filled the gaps’

Over the past few years, fundraising has managed to plug some of the deficit. According to Thatcher, these fundraising activities were suspended at the end of 2023 due to negative comments aimed at the staff by some Dale Junior parents.

Dale Junior staff have nonetheless decided to reintroduce certain fundraising activities in an attempt to resume some projected fixtures and academic needs of the school.

“This, however, will never be sufficient to cover the costs of running an institution such as ours,” added Thatcher. “The responsibility lies with the parents to fulfil their duties and to honour their commitment to pay school fees which they made when they applied to Dale Junior.”

Read the full statement below: