Curro rescues Lesufi over shortage of space in public schools

19 January 2020 - 00:01 By PREGA GOVENDER
Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi outside the Curro Roodeplaat School on June 18, 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Gauteng MEC for Education Panyaza Lesufi outside the Curro Roodeplaat School on June 18, 2015 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image: Gallo Images / Foto24 / Theana Breugem

Private school operator Curro has not ruled out lower fees for Gauteng state school pupils who enrol at its institutions.

About 150 parents asked about enrolling after education MEC Panyaza Lesufi said he had struck a deal with the company to give parents a 30% discount.

Curro denied this and Lesufi changed his statement to say parents who enrolled pupils at Curro would be charged what they would have paid at their state schools.

Mari Lategan, Curro's marketing and communications executive, said it had not finalised the proposed payment structures.

"We are not ruling out that some offer might apply once we know exactly how many learners need to be accommodated. This [the reduction] will also depend on the number of learners and the area."

The confusion arose around enrolment of pupils in grades 1 and 8 that the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools blamed on a shortage of schools.

Lesufi said all pupils who applied on time had been placed. Late applicants in grades 1 and 8 were in limbo.

"There are some schools that are oversubscribed and can't accommodate all learners. The department is in the process of expanding the infrastructure of these schools, and in the interim we felt that some learners can be temporarily placed at some Curro schools close by," he said.

Gauteng's online registration system has been dogged by problems. Asked why his department persisted with a system that all other provinces managed without, Lesufi said it prevented schools from "gatekeeping" by turning away children whose parents could not afford fees.

"It eliminated endless paperwork and allowed dissatisfied parents to object or appeal if they are unhappy about something that was deliberately ignored before," he said.

All provinces that responded to questions from the Sunday Times said they were short of classrooms, and some said storm damage had exacerbated the problem.

All provinces that responded to questions from the Sunday Times said they were short of classrooms, and some said storm damage had exacerbated the problem

Northern Cape education department spokesperson Geoffrey van der Merwe said 641 grade R pupils in Frances Baard district would not be accommodated at public schools because of classroom shortages.

"We are encouraging the parents of these learners to start looking for placement at early childhood development community-based sites," said Van der Merwe.

According to the Mpumalanga education department's website, 314 grade 1 pupils in Mbombela, 364 grades 1-4 pupils from Steve Tshwete and 214 grade 1 and 200 grade 8 pupils from Emalahleni were still unplaced.

Free State education spokesperson Howard Ndaba said that it was aware of the need for extra classrooms and "will re-allocate mobile classes to those schools".

Limpopo spokesperson Sam Makondo confirmed that 14 new schools would be built. "The estimated budget to repair 124 storm-damaged schools is R507.4m," he said.

Western Cape education department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said 40 classrooms had been built at eight schools, 11 had been refurbished and 103 mobile classrooms had been provided for 16 schools.

The North West said "procurement processes" were under way for repairs to 37 storm-damaged schools.


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