DA provincial spokesperson for Education Edmund van Vuuren said he supported calls for the policy.

FORMER Model C schools in the Eastern Cape are under fire again, this time with the provincial Education Department wanting to develop a “uniform policy” to divert hostel fees to its coffers.

Senior departmental officials revealed that the province had no policy for public schools offering accommodation in terms of how hostel fees should be used.

Now the department wants to develop a uniform policy within the next three months to stipulate how the fees will be spent.

Some hostels at public schools in the Eastern Cape, including certain former Model C schools, are owned by the State.

Currently, certain Model C schools retain fees from pupils for accommodation, while other public schools, mostly in townships and rural areas, pay the fees to the department.

Department officials cited run-ins with former Model C schools at a lengthy portfolio committee meeting on education at the Bhisho legislature on Thursday.

Officials accused former Model C schools of charging “exorbitant” amounts for accommodation and keeping the money for their own use.

Officials said despite the fact some public schools had dilapidated facilities, they continued to transfer accommodation fees to the provincial revenue fund at the Zwelitsha headquarters, while former Model C schools were using the fees for maintenance.

Education MEC Mandla Makupula said the department had been grappling with the issue and had been struggling to work with former Model C schools due to the lack of a policy.

“There are existing disparities where black-dominated boarding schools give their money to the department, while former Model C schools use theirs for maintenance,” he said.

“Let’s have all hostels treated equally. There is no uniform policy in the department. If former Model C schools keep their money, let others do the same.”

Makupula said department officials had told him they feared approaching former Model C schools about the matter because of the lack of a policy.

Some former Model C schools were allegedly still “adhering to apartheid laws”, and officials feared interference would lead to litigation.

Eastern Cape education portfolio committee chairperson Mzoleli Mrara said a policy was needed urgently because former Model C schools were not accessible to many pupils.

“Some parents pay over R20 000 [a year] in these schools, which includes school fees.

“We need an audit report of all boarding schools in the Eastern Cape about the escalation of fees.”

Mrara said the department would have to produce a policy that would benefit the poor within three months.

DA provincial spokesperson for Education Edmund van Vuuren said he supported calls for the policy.

“All schools which have hostels must adhere to the same policy. I must put it blatantly that we are denying children access to education as poor parents cannot enrol their children. I believe this is unfair.”

However, former Model C schools questioned the viability of the policy.

Stirling High principal Charles Foster said their residences were State-owned but they did not receive a subsidy from the department.

“The department pays limited money for matrons and staff only.

“Parents carry costs for maintenance, food and electricity.”

Dale College principal Mike Eddy said their residences were also Stateowned but he did not believe the policy would work.

“The department must just stick to its core business.”

Queen’s College deputy principal Mike Boy said their residences were State-owned, but parents paid the maintenance bills.

He said he was sceptical the policy would assist former Model C schools.

Hudson Park principal Roy Hewett said the school had privately-owned hostels and would not be affected by the policy.

Education superintendent-general Modidima Mannya said there were challenges that the department would have to resolve.

Mannya said schools were not getting a subsidy from the department and many schools had both private and State-owned hostels and classrooms. “This needs to be resolved first before anything can be done.” — msindisif@dispatch.co.za