Parents Working for School Fees
The “Parents Working for School Fees” programme, as part of Link of Love, has helped many parents who are struggling with school fees.
An unemployed person can work at their child’s school for a R100 Link of Love voucher. R50 goes to school fees and they take R50 home.
Jennifer Lodewyks, headmistress of Voorspoed Primary School, has welcomed the programme with open arms.
“At the moment, about 80% of school fees remain unpaid every year. We have 1 000 pupils at the school and many, many of the parents are unemployed. We really battle to make ends meet at Voorspoed. Allowing parents to come and work at our school solves two problems at once. Firstly, we are very short staffed, so we are getting some much needed help cleaning our classrooms, preparing food and working in the school grounds. And, we get our school fees paid!”
Mr Archie Benjamin, headmaster at Mountview High School is equally delighted. “Our high school fees are currently R550 for the year. Most families have more than one child in high school and with unemployment running so high in the community, the school fees become almost impossible to pay off. We are currently looking at 70% of fees remaining unpaid every year.”
Both Jennifer and Archie feel that this programme will subtly shift the attitudes of other parents too. They both believe that some parents who are working still do not pay fees because they do not wish to make the investment in their child’s education.
Archie puts it this way: “Some of them would rather buy their children top brand shoes or cellphones, instead of paying their fees. The subtle message is that education is of secondary importance. Children who see their parents working at the school to pay for fees will realise the value of education and be far more appreciative. And the parents will feel a deeper sense of pride and responsibility.” he added. “Contribution is what is needed in our community. That is what builds dignity”.
Recently we caught up with the workers at both schools. Dianne Strauss, Olga Williams and Connie Dreyer were hard at work in the kitchen peeling carrots, stirring huge pots of food and washing dishes. Around the corner at Mountview High School, Ruggaya Williams was stepping into her power “I want to work until have paid off my fees from last year and my fees for my son and daughter for this year” she beamed.
Out in the classrooms Geraldine Philander and Ruwayda Isaacs were literally creating a dust storm, so vigorous was their sweeping! As a single mom, Geraldine is so proud of her son in Grade 9 and wants to get the school fees bill off her shoulders as fast as possible. It was Ruwayda’s first day at work. “I am divorced and my ex husband is supposed to pay for Nawaal’s fees, but has not done so”, she explained. “So here I am because I want to set a good example for her. I want her to see that debt must be paid if we are to live a good life!”