Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says his department offered financial assistance to all schools including fee-paying schools as parents struggled to pay fees due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was responding to questions during a virtual sitting of the Gauteng Legislature. He says his department’s assessment of schools revealed that most parents were battling to pay school fees as a result of financial constraints brought by the pandemic.
He says the financial injection was also aimed at assisting schools that were struggling to meet their obligations including paying their municipal accounts.
“The department took a decision to bail out all schools with regards to payments, especially for water and electricity in order to avoid the disconnection of basic services which may exacerbate our plans in fighting COVID-19,” Lesufi said.

He added, “Failure of parents to pay school fees would have led to some of the schools being terminated, not receiving water properly because the municipalities would have terminated their services.”

Attendance at Gauteng schools

In early October, Lesufi said while there’s been an improvement in attendance, over 53 000 learners have been unaccounted for since schools reopened and they’re presumed to have dropped out.

He was speaking at the Provincial Command Council briefing on COVID-19.

Lesufi said some parents have resolved that their children will repeat their current grade in 2021 and this will clog the system in 2021.

He appealed to parents to ensure that their children return to school to complete the academic year.

“It means we need to extend the class size, get additional teachers, get additional textbooks, additional furniture. So, it’s not good for our school system. We can still finish the academic year this year. The second issue is indeed the fear of COVID-19. Out of the 53 000, the majority is your Grade R, Grade RR, and Grade 1s. There are some parents that believe if a Grade 1 is not at school, what is that child missing, to say a, e, i, o u or sleeping or dancing or other things? They forget that that’s the basic of education actually.”

Lesufi says learners who have dropped out of school in 2020 will have to repeat the grade in 2021.