Principals’ views on the implementation of the no-fee policy through the lens of capability theory
Barnet, Emma Priscilla
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The purpose of the study reported on here was to investigate the implementation of the no-fee schools policy in quintile 1 schools in the Frances Baard district of the Northern Cape province. The South African schooling system categorises schools into quintile 1 to 5 schools, and, since 2006, disadvantaged learners in quintiles 1 to 3 have been exempted from paying fees. This study explored the perceptions of school principals regarding the implementation of the no-fee policy in the South African context, by applying a capability approach, which offers a novel perspective. In the study we used a descriptive design located within the qualitative tradition. Nine principals from quintile 1 schools were purposively selected as participants. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews, and a thematic framework was used for analysis. The findings indicate that the no-fee schools policy is only implemented partially by stakeholders (principals and school governing bodies). Furthermore, it was found that there is a lack of knowledge about the content of the policy which consequently inhibits effective implementation. Based on the findings, it is recommended that the Department of Education monitors the implementation of the no-fee policy more closely.