Access to education for non-national children in South Africa
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- What does the law say?
- Do non-South African children have a right to education in South Africa?
- Must non-South African children pay school fees too?
- Do children need an identity document to enroll at a South African school?
- What kind of barriers do non-South African children face in accessing education in South Africa?
- What kind of problems are schools facing in terms of admitting undocumented children?
- What has been done, in the courts, about this, and what was the outcome?
- I have more questions, who can I ask?
Do non-South African children have a right to education in South Africa?
Yes. Non-South African children, including undocumented, asylum seeker, and refugee status individuals may not be denied access to a basic education in South Africa, in line with national legislation outlined in section 2 above. The right to a basic education for all, regardless of documentation, has been upheld by South African courts numerous times, in cases such as Minister of Home Affairs v Watchenuka and Mubake v Home Affairs – cases that are outlined in section 8 below.
In addition, “Section 9 of the Admissions Policy for Ordinary School states that the admission policy of a public school and the administration of admissions by an education department must not unfairly discriminate in any way against an applicant for admission; and Section 19 of the Admissions Policy states that this policy should apply equally to learners who are not citizens of the Republic of South Africa and whose parents are in possession of a permit for temporary permanent residence issued by the Department of Home Affairs. This would include asylum seeker and refugee children.”2