The article by Ilse Fredericks “Paying for Position” August 14th, reminds me of politicians who promise free water, free electricity and free housing. As a Councillor who serves on the Finance Portfolio Committee of this city I can confirm that nothing is free. In Cape Town, it is primarily the middle income families that carry the financial burden thru a regular increase on tariffs (water, sewerage, electricity and rates). Soon the city will again embark on a property evaluation program with the probability of increased valuation on middle class properties. In time to come, this will permit local Councillors to increase the rates tariff which is used to subsidize the lower income.

As the chairperson of a school governing body (SGB) of a fee paying school, I am intrigued by the response that “the Western Cape Education Department is concerned about the report that schools are disregarding the legal framework which regulates payment of school fees”. In my opinion, this happens because the “legal framework” significantly constrains governing bodies. For example, how should a governing body recover fees from non- paying parents when the parent know that legally, their child cannot be barred from attending the school? Because collecting agents are expensive and often not worth the financial effort, will the education department subsidize the collection costs? Also, should those who pay school fees, be considered the financial surety of those who do not pay?

Although I fully understand, accept and support the idea that every parent wants the best for their children; who is financially responsible for that ideal? How should governing bodies protect the interest of those who pay when those who do not pay, demand their right to equal but free education? Because governing bodies are elected on the priority of “doing what is best for the entire school community”, is the paying children, the SBG teachers, support staff, and infrastructure cost not the main concern? In my opinion, middle income families already fulfils its responsibility thru income tax, excessive rates, electricity and water tariffs which subsidizes the less fortunate. The SA Schools Act insidiously compels governing bodies to subsidies non-payers by underhandedly taxing paying parents. To be equitable, those unable to pay should enrol their children in non-fee schools.

Parents, who pay, obviously want more than what the free schools have to offer, are they not entitled to this in a democratic society? When the financial balance is eventually tipped and 20% of parents at fee schools do not pay, will the WCED pay the full salaries of the existing SGB teachers, the support staff and the building maintenance? Have fee schools become an extension of the welfare experiment within society where some perpetually carry the financial burden of others?

In conclusion, to those unable to think beyond the issue of racism, 90% of the school population are coloured, Indian and African so this is not an issue of race.

Yagyah Adams

Cape Muslim Congress