Access to education for non-national children in South Africa
Keep up to date with our Teach-Yourself Series – condensed articles on current and planned changes in South African migration law. Our articles and infographics aim to spread awareness on South Africa’s migration landscape, and our standpoints on the i …
- 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?
Must non-South African children pay school fees too?
Yes. Parents and caregivers with refugee or asylum seeker status who are unable to afford school fees are eligible to apply for a fee exemption. Undocumented parents may not apply for such an exemption. Fee exemptions may be applied for at any public school, and the process is the same for non-South Africans as well as citizens. Parents and caregivers will need to submit documentation of their monthly salary and expenses.3 Despite the law, in practice it can be difficult for an applicant with refugee status to receive an exemption, and very difficult for one with asylum seeker status to receive one. However, a learner cannot be excluded from participation in any official school programmes due to non-payment of school fees by the parent.4 A school may also not retain a learner’s report because the parent cannot afford to pay school fees.