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Cape Town - The practice of withholding report cards is against the law and will not be tolerated, the Western Cape Education Department has said. 

Report cards are due to be released on Wednesday, December 6, in the Western Cape. However, Education MEC Debbie Schäfer said that her office had already received complaints from parents about schools refusing to release reports due to outstanding school fees.

"Section 41 (7) of the South African Schools Act says that learners may not be deprived of their rights to participate fully in school programmes, this includes receiving a report card," Schäfer said in a statement. 

"This regulation applies to both public and independent schools from Grade R – 12.

"However, we are aware that in some cases, schools ask parents to fetch the reports. They then use this opportunity to discuss outstanding fees. Schools deny that they are withholding report cards in these cases.

"There is nothing preventing a school from requiring parents to collect the reports at school."

The department would investigate complaints and take further action if necessary, Schäfer said.

"While we understand and sympathise with many schools that are battling to collect school fees from parents, especially when some parents can clearly afford them, discriminating against a learner for the financial decisions or position of a parent is against the law and will not be tolerated.

"We appeal to all parents to report such a practice to their nearest district office should this be happening in their child’s school. I also urge all principals to release learners’ report cards on the date specified."

Schools are within their rights to take legal action against parents who owe fees and who do not qualify for partial, or full exemption.

Parents are able to qualify for exemption if the fees are more than 10% of their combined annual salary. 

Parents are urged to contact their nearest WCED office for more information.

WCED contact details

[email protected]

Cape Argus