private schools south africa covid-19

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SA private schools face financial battle during COVID-19

South African private schools are facing financial strain as a result of COVID-19; parents have been unable to pay school fees.

private schools south africa covid-19

Image via Adobe Stock

According to the National Alliance of Independent School Association (NAISA), many schools in South Africa have been negatively affected by the coronavirus pandemic and resulting in lockdown restrictions.

As reported by SABC News, some private schools in South Africa receive a government subsidy, but most rely “solely on school fees to stay afloat”.

Non-payment of school fees

NAISA secretary-general Ebrahim Ansur explained that as much as 90% of the income of independent schools come from schools fees, and many parents aren’t able to honour payments:

“In the large number of independent schools that we have around the country, parents pay either on a monthly basis or on a termly basis. Because of the lockdown and the restrictions of economic activity, payment of school fees has been very, very slow indeed and many independent schools are struggling to survive”.

Speaking to SABC, Ansur explains that some schools are fortunate because parents pay fees upfront. As a result of monthly payment not being made, some private schools are now facing closure.

Paying teachers

Ansur explains that the loss of income has a dramatic effect on the running of a school, in particular in the shools ability to pay teachers’ salary.

Teacher salaries make up a large part of the budget, he says, approximately 90%. He warned that “radical disruptions” may crop up in the near future, “as far as teachers’ salaries are concerned.

“Schools have little recourse to other sources of income. The NAISA has approached the Solidarity fund for assistance, but unfortunately, they are not in a position to assist.”

Ansur adds that some relief – a “very small percentage” – is obtained via the departments TERS and UIF funding system, a maximum of between 30 and 35% of salaries are paid in this way, and it’s for a limited time.

According to the National Alliance of Independent School Association, the only way forward would be for parents to pay school fees, and urge those who are in a position to pay, to do so.

When will schools reopen?

Back in April, after consulting with the Independent Examination Body (IEB) and NAISA, basic education minister Angie Motshekga announced that schools will reopen on 1 June for grade 12 and grade 7 pupils.

“In all the meetings the principle of opening of schools at the right time was accepted once all the conditions have been met. They proposed that in order to deal with social distancing they requested the department to use community and town halls, platooning and shifting.”

Basic education minister Angie Motshekga

Motshekga will provide another update with regards to the opening of school in South Africa on Monday, 17 May 2020.