A dispute between the Federation of Governing Bodies of South African Schools (Fedsas) and the Free State Department of Education on payments the department allegedly should have made to public schools could soon find its way into the courts.
Fedsas also revealed that it will now also be working with the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU) as the two join forces against the department over its alleged failure to pay the money Treasury pays over to it to its intended beneficiaries, which are public schools around the province.
Spokesperson of the provincial education department, Howard Ndaba, confirmed that they have received a letter of demand from Fedsas and were informed that the federation has taken the department to the Public Protector’s offices in the province and has laid a claim with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) for alleged failure of the department to pay over the money received to public schools.
Ndaba would not confirm whether the allegations made by Fedsas against the department are true or not, though he confirmed that the department is in talks with its legal team over the matter.
Meanwhile, Fedsas Deputy CEO, Dr Jaco Deacon, said the department had not responded to a letter of demand the federation sent to the department through a lawyer, stating that schools which did not receive a transfer payment for their expenses should have the money paid over within two weeks. “Every year, without exception, schools in the Free State start the new school year without money for expenses such as water, electricity, and stationery. Provincial education departments are responsible to pay over this money from the National Treasurer twice a year, but this does not happen in the Free State,” Deacon said.
After the department had neither communicated nor paid over the money to the affected schools, Fedsas requested the PP and SAHRC to look into the matter.
Meanwhile, the provincial SAHRC offices have confirmed that the matter is still under assessment, a decision is yet to be made whether to place it under investigation or whether there is any other institution which is better placed to handle it.