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Education Policy: Admissions

Education is important for any nation. If we want to develop our economy to overcome poverty, we have to improve the skills and capacity of our people. An education policy is necessary to ensure access for all despite a citizen's wealth, race, gender, culture, or disability. Without an admissions and school fees policy, equal access is not possible.

What is in this guide?

This guide provides government policy on school admissions. It has the following sections:

  1. School admissions and fees:
  2. Legal and policy guidelines on school admission
  3. What to do if a child is refused access to a school for reasons of language
  4. What to do if a child is refused access to a school because parents cannot pay school fees
  5. How to prevent unfair discrimination against poor children

    1. School admissions and fees

    Government policy on school admissions and school fees is guided by three basic principles:

    1. Equity : to make sure that government gives the same basis resources to all government schools
    2. Redress: to give more government resources to learners in historically disadvantaged communities so that they have more money for textbooks and stationery, and to make it possible to build schools in areas where none exist and upgrade existing schools
    3. Access: to make sure no one is excluded from attending school on the basis of race or religion or because they cannot afford to pay school fees.
    1. Legal and policy guidelines on school admission

    The South African Schools Act says that:

    Practical steps that can be taken if a school tells a learner that it is full:

    1. What to do if a child is refused access to a school for reasons of language?

    Government policy is clear on giving children access to state schools. It also supports mother tongue instruction where this is feasible.

    Some children have been refused access to certain former Model C schools on the basis that the school is an Afrikaans medium school and the child does not speak Afrikaans. In some communities the English medium school is full and there are only spaces in the Afrikaans medium school. Some communities have successfully solved this matter by entering into negotiations with the governing body of the Afrikaans medium school. As a result of these negotiations the school has become a dual medium school where students have the option to learn in either English or Afrikaans.

    When faced with such a problem, find out how many learners are without a school to attend in the community. Request a meeting with the Principal and the Governing Body and discuss the issue. The local District Office of the Education Department can also be approached to assist in these negotiations.

    1. What to do if a child is refused access to a school because parents cannot pay fees?

    The law says that the paying of fees is a matter between the School Governing Body and the parent of the child and not a matter between a child, teachers or principals.

    The law also says that no child can be refused admission to a school because his or her parents cannot afford to pay school fees. It is also illegal for schools to charge registration fees or other up front payments from parents when giving a child admission to a school. A child cannot be sent home from school or refused results of tests or exams if fees have not been paid.

    If this problem arises, contact the principal and explain that the action is against the law. At the same time advise parents how to approach the School Governing Body to get part or total exemption from fees.

    1. How to prevent unfair discrimination against poor children

    Monitor schools admission policies, especially at registration time. Make sure that poor children are not discriminated against and that the admissions policy is properly applied.

    Where you encounter problems, report them to the district office of the Education Department. Advise parents to take the matter to SGBs and to make complaints to the department. You could also assist SGBs with developing proper policies. They can get assistance with this from the department.


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