South Africa: Parents Shut Down Primary School in Imbali Over Fees

On Monday parents shut down Ihlelingomuso Primary school in Imbali over fees.

On Monday parents shut down Ihlelingomuso Primary school in Imbali Unit 15, and vowed to keep the school closed until the MEC for education Kwazi Mshengu attends to their issues.

Parents closed the gates of the school and teachers and learners were not allowed to enter the premises.

According to parents, they paid the annual R160 school fee in May, only to later find out that the school had been granted no-fee status in April.

A parent told GroundUp that many parents at the school are single parents who survive on child grants and piecemeal work.

"Many of the parents live in Unit 14 in low-cost houses," said School Governing Body (SGB) Chairperson Mabhungu Mkhize. "The school falls under quintile three, which means it receives a subsidy from the government."

He said parents only found out when they followed up their request for no-fee status with the department.

"The SGB has worked very hard requesting that our school becomes a no-fee school. It has been a struggle," said Mkhize. "I'm one of the parents who paid the school fees in May. I was not given a receipt."

Mkhize said there were other issues, such as no teachers for Natural Science and Life Skills.

Manager of Umgungundlovu circuit in Department of Education Mxolisi Mncwabe arrived at the school to address the parents. He said it has been decided to suspend the principal.

GroundUp was unable to contact the principal.

Spokesperson for the provincial department Muzi Mahlambi said, "The department does not condone the shut down of the school. This is a wrongdoing which will affect the children in the future ... We need a chance to investigate the matter. Children must be allowed to go to school; it is their right."

"The gates will open once the MEC comes and talk to us," said parent Thandeka Mfeka. "Where did the money we paid go? ... The only person we will listen to is the MEC ... We will close the school for months if the MEC doesn't come here."

The school remained closed on Thursday.

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