National

Polokwane resolution #6: Increase number of no-fee schools

Bongani Nkosi

As the ANC goes to its elective conference in Mangaung, we look at the resolutions made at the 2007 Polokwane conference. What have they achieved?

The ANC has achieved its target of increasing the number of no-fee schools to 60% of public schools. (Delwyn Verasamy, MG)

How much progress has the ANC made on their last set of goals before they look to setting new resolutions at the Mangaung conference? Look out for our series of reports on how the party's wishes have been achieved under president Jacob Zuma's leadership.

More resolutions:
Resolution #1: Political school
Resolution #2: Women's ministry
Resolution #3: On willing buyer, willing seller
Resolution #4: One million-member party
Resolution #5: Establish the veterans' league

Resolution:
The number of no-fee schools should increase to 60% of public schools by 2009.

Progress:
The resolution that the number of no-fee schools increase to 60% of all public schools by 2009 has been achieved. No-fee schools in the country increased from 55% in 2008 to 60% two years later, the South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) said in a report released in July this year. This figure stood at 68% in 2011, according to data from the basic education department. 

Almost 8.1-million pupils were accessing education at the 19 933 no-fee schools. These are mostly schools between the quintiles one and three, which are poor schools located in rural areas and townships.

All nine provinces increased the number of no-fee schools between 2008 and 2010, according to the SAIRR. Over 3 000 public schools in each the Eastern Cape and Limpopo were classified as no-fee, and the increase of these schools has improved access to basic education.

But there are concerns that while these schools improve access to education in poor communities, their performance is not improving, or is even deteriorating. " … there is evidence that schools that do not charge for tuition do not perform as well academically when compared to schools that charge relatively low school fees", said the SAIRR. 

The rise in schools that do not charge for tuition needs to be accompanied by the provision of quality education, the SAIRR said, "otherwise increased access to education will be meaningless". 

The Polokwane resolution that career guidance be a compulsory subject from grade eight upwards has been partially achieved. Career guidance is still not a stand-alone subject but it is currently integrated in the Life Orientation curriculum from grades eight to 12. In its national general council in Durban in 2010, the ANC said it noted the integration as "progress" towards the implementation of the resolution.


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