Media Release
Minister of Education Donald Grant
Western Cape

14 October, 2013

Background to the national quintile system.

Statement by Minister Donald Grant, Minister of Education, Western Cape


All South African public ordinary schools are categorised into five groups, called quintiles, largely for purposes of the allocation of financial resources.

Quintile one is the 'poorest' quintile, while quintile five is the 'least poor'.

These poverty rankings are determined nationally according to the poverty of the community around the school, as well as, certain infrastructural factors.

Each quintile, nationally, contains 20% of all learners, but not 20% from each province.

Schools in quintile 1, 2 and 3 have been declared no-fee schools, while schools in quintiles 4 and 5 are fee-paying schools.

The National and Provincial breakdown of the quintiles is as follows:

National Poverty table for 2014
  National Quintiles
  1 2 3 4 5
EC 27.3% 24.7% 19.6% 17.0% 11.4%
FC 20.5% 20.9% 22.4% 20.8% 15.4%
GP 14.1% 14.7% 17.9% 21.9% 31.4
KN 22.1% 23.2% 20.2% 18.7% 15.8%
LP 28.2% 24.6% 24.2% 14.9% 8.0%
MP 23.1% 24.1% 21.5% 17.7% 13.5%
NC 21.5% 19.3% 20.7% 21.4% 17.1%
NW 25.6% 22.3% 20.8% 17.6% 13.7%
WC 8.6% 13.3% 18.4% 28.0% 31.7%
SA 20.0% 20.0% 20.0% 20.0% 20.0%

This table shows that 8.6% of learners in the Western Cape fall into the category of learners in the poorest 20% in South Africa. It also explains why in the Western Cape, only just over 40% of schools are no-fee schools in quintiles 1,2 and 3 when the average for South Africa as a whole is 60%.

The Western Cape has relatively lower levels of poverty compared to the rest of the country. However, in-migration and the current economic situation, results in many of our communities feeling increasing economic pressures.

A schools quintile ranking is important as it determines the amount of funding that it receives each year and whether or not the school can charge fees.

Learners attending Quintile 1, 2 and 3 schools do not pay school fees. Therefore, in order to compensate these schools for their loss in fee income, the state provides them with a larger Norms and Standards allocation than schools classified as "fee-paying" schools in quintiles 4 and 5.

Quintile 1,2 and 3 schools receive the same amount per learner.

The recommended per learner allocation for each quintile is determined by the National Department of Basic Education.

The current breakdown of learners, schools and allocations in each quintile in the Western Cape is as follows:

N&S 2013
Quintile SCHOOLS Learners Funding
NQ1 313 88 168 R1010
NQ2 163 123 692 R1010
NQ3 193 159 262 R1010
NQ4 326 246 249 R505
NQ5 457 319 280 R252 *
Grand Total 1 452 936 651  

Please note * - The National Government recommends a per learner allocation of R174 for Q5 schools, however the Western Cape currently provides an average allocation to NQ5 schools of R252 instead.

The norms and standards allocation to schools is then used by schools to finance various school items and payments such as:

  • Municipal services - such as water and electricity.

  • Stationery and learning support materials - such as textbooks and readers.

  • Equipment - such as a fax machine for administrative purposes.

  • Maintenance and repairs - such as the maintenance of the toilets or the fixing of basic repairs.

While the allocations differ significantly between quintile 4 and 5 and quintiles 1-3, quintile 4 and 5 schools charge school fees, which should essentially make up for the additional funding needed to run the school. This is planned for during the budget and fee setting processes by the SGB and presented to a meeting of parents.

However, given the circumstances of some schools, their quintile ranking of Quintile 4 and 5, does not work in their favour.

For example, the national data that has been used to determine their poverty status does not take into account the demographics of specific schools. There are schools which do not draw their majority enrolments from the local area (there may not be children of school going age in the area). Some of these schools then educate significant numbers of children from families which cannot meet the fee arrangements at their children's schools.

This has been a significant source of financial pressure for these schools and this latest announcement will address this problem for many schools and parents.

For enquiries, contact Bronagh Casey:  072 724 1422 or

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