Fund to rescue struggling teachers during Covid-19

Kronendal Primary School teachers attended a preparation seminar to get themselves geared for the reopening of schools.

Kronendal Primary School teachers are among those feeling the pinch because of unpaid school fees during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to governing body chairman Iain Anderson, the fee-paying government school gets state funding for less than 25% of its staff salaries. The balance – to pay teachers appointed by the school’s governing body – is funded through school fees.

“With a sudden loss of fees, 75% of our staff and teacher salaries are now at risk,” he said.

The school’s parents and teachers have now started a fund to help cash-strapped staff.

For every R100 donated to the Khanyisa Education Fund, R60 will go to school fees, covering salaries, R20 will go to aftercare and R20 will go to remedial programmes.

“Our school has a warm spirit of inclusiveness and commitment to embracing children no matter their race, culture, nationality, or economic background,” said Mr Anderson.

Due to Covid-19, many families were unable to pay fees, placing the school in a vulnerable position.

“We need support to see us through this difficult time and to ensure we can continue to uplift the children of our community,” Mr Anderson said.

The Western Cape Education Department said it was aware that many schools were battling to pay the salaries of school governing body (SGB) teachers.

“The staff that are appointed by SGBs are reliant on funds generated by the SGB. A large portion of income generation is school fees, or the hiring out of school facilities for events – something that is not permitted under the current lockdown levels. Schools are trying to do what they can to support their teachers who are SGB appointed, but if parents do not pay fees, it is a definite struggle,” department spokeswoman, Bronagh Hammond, said.

There are about 570 fee-charging schools in the Western Cape, and, according to the department, 556 of them claimed R58 million in compensation for fee exemption for 86 964 pupils, for the 2018 school year.

Ms Hammond said claims for 2019 would be paid this year, and those for this year would be paid next year. “It is understandable that many parents could have had a loss of income during the lockdown. Parents who have been laid off or had contracts cancelled and are unemployed can apply for fee exemption,” she said.

Parents qualify for exemption if the school fees are more than 10% of their combined annual salary. They can qualify for partial exemption if the fees are between 2% and 10% of their annual salary, depending on the number of children they have at the school.

Meanwhile, Kronendal’s Grade 7s have returned as part of the phased reopening of schools but other pupils continue to get their lessons online for now.

The school has also been providing food parcels and data to needy pupils to ensure none of them get left behind.

“We are appealing to the community of Hout Bay, Kronendal past pupils and all who believe in the power of education to uplift, to please donate to the Khanyisa Education Fund. Whether you have just R50 to give, are able to donate each month, or can make a more substantial contribution, every donation is meaningful,” Mr Anderson said.

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