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ACT LEGALISES TOP-UP FEES

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MBABANE – Looking for something and then noticing it’s in your hands is humiliating, says the Englishman.


The adage may be relevant to current happenings in the country, with particular reference to the divisive issue of the top-up fees.
Stakeholders are searching for answers to the question of how to charge top-up fees yet they (top-up fees) are legal in terms of Section 12 of the Free Primary Education Act of 2010.


Top-up fees are additional school related fees that are charged by public schools, over and above the grants they get from government.
It is provided in law that schools can ask parents to pay additional fees over and above the yearly grants paid to the school by government. It was previously reported that government was bringing back top-up fees.


It was said Phineas Magagula, the Minister of Education and Training, had submitted a proposal to cabinet to reintroduce the additional fees which schools charged over and above government grants.


However, this newspaper can reveal that the law does set out procedures for implementing top up fees.
First, a public school is required in terms of the law to submit a formal request to the minister of education and training, stating its intention to ask parents to pay additional fees.


The public school can only implement the extra school fee charges after it had received the minister’s approval. 
There is no provision which empowers the minister to turn down the request.


Reads Section 12 (1) of the Act: “A committee of a public primary school intending to ask parents to top up school fees over and above the fees paid to the school by the government shall submit a written request, with justification to the minister for his approval before implementing such top up.”
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