Odd jobs contribute to paying fees

Collecting school fees is a nightmare for some but not for the principal of Troyeville Primary, writes Nawaal Deane

Rosemary Schulze, principal of Troyeville Primary in Johannesburg, has introduced a system through which parents can work at the school in lieu of school fees. Parents performing odd jobs are paid R50 per day.

“Both the school and parents benefit from this scheme,” says Schulze.

Eight years ago Schulze found that there were many unemployed parents and so many little odd jobs around the school. “For the parent’s who find it difficult to pay fees we give them the opportunity to work on a contract basis.” School fees at Troyeville are R1 200 per year. Parents work on a contract basis until the fee is paid up.

“The system depends on the number of jobs available,” she says.

“We have various jobs for parents, anything from painting to faxing. The school generally tries to cater for a parent’s specific skills. “One of the father’s made curtains for the school,” she says.

According to Schulze the programme is very cost effective and easy to implement. Each year parents who are unable to pay are asked to bring a payslip to prove that their financial position is under strain. “Some of the parents’ salaries are not low but because of the number of dependents they cannot afford to pay fees,” she says.

The school chooses candidates from these parents and they are exempt from paying fees. Some parents get a full exemption while others get a partial one.

“Currently the school has 43 parents on a full exemption and 20 on a partial one.”

Schulze admits that the school has problems with the parents who can afford the school fees.

“But we do have a collection committee for those parents.”

Glenrose Ouma Moagi is an unemployed parent who works at the school to pay off her grade 5 son’s school fees.

“If it was not for the programme I could not send my son to school,” says Moagi. She loves working at the school doing odd jobs like photocopying or selling tickets.

“My son asks me everyday, ‘Mummy are you coming to school today?’ He loves me working here.”

Schulze laughs and says that Moagi has been one of the most amazing parents at the school.

“She is great.”

The programme, according to Schulze, gives parents a sense of pride and it is a way of empowering them as they contribute to their children’s education.

“All schools have little jobs that need to be done and the programme is simple, all you need is to send out a message to parents and the response is usually very positive,” says Schulze.

Some parents who have a problem with English are given the task of covering textbooks.

“We have an elderly lady who has covered textbooks for the past five years to put children through school,” says Shulze.

- The Teacher/M&G Media, Johannesburg, July 2001.

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