Zinta Heunis

A school fee is an agreed upon amount of money that parents pay towards schools, aimed at improving the quality of education of their children as learners. Although it may not include registration fees, administration or other fees, Section 1 of the South African Schools Act define school fees as: “fees which includes any form of contribution of a monetary nature made or paid by a person or body in relation to the attendance or participation by a learner in any programme of a public school

The above begs the question of what does school fees entail? Surely one would expect that it could not possibly include extracurricular activities and afterschool care. But, be warned parents – don’t step in the rusty bear-trap.

Should you and your partner ever enter into a dispute about who should pay the school fees and if it includes extracurricular activities, stop and think about it first by making a list of what have you been paying for in the past.

If your past contributions shows that you have funded extracurricular activities and afterschool care fees, a Maintenance Court may make an attenuated assumption that the latter is included in the definition of school fees.

Before you turn red of anger, fret and / or suffer an anxiety attach due to your perception of the inimicality of the above, look at what the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996 (herein after referred to as the Constitution) which states:

The circumstances of each case will however be weighed up in Court. Section 39(2) of the Constitution indicates that: “when interpreting any legislation … every court, tribunal or forum must promote the spirit, purport and objects of the Bill of Rights.

Section 28 of the Constitution clearly stipulates that the best interest of a child will always be of paramount importance in every matter concerning a child.

Therefore, if your financial contributions in the past has caused the other parent to launch an artillery barrage on your obligation towards and impact on the definition of school fees, do not hesitate to consult our offices for advice in this regard.

Remember to always ensure that in the event of a divorce settlement, the financial contribution towards school expenses are expressly stipulated.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice.