1. This circular replaces Circular 0010/2000.
2. All learners MUST receive instruction in two approved languages, i.e. one at First Language level and the other at First or Second Language level.
3. Up to and including Grade 9, learners are not required to pass their second approved language for progression purposes. However, learners are expected to pass two approved languages in each year of the Senior Secondary phase, i.e. Grades 10 to 12.
4. As there are many people returning to South Africa after a prolonged period of absence and there is an increase in the number of people seeking temporary or permanent residence in South Africa, it is necessary for principals to note the language concession offered to those who meet the requirements and the procedure to be followed when applying for language exemption.
5. Not all learners from foreign countries qualify for the language concession. As these learners are often overlooked as far as education in a second language in the primary phase is concerned, they find themselves in a predicament when they discover in the Grade 9 examination - or even at a later stage - that they do not qualify for language exemption. It is therefore imperative that principals of primary schools also take note of the criteria regarding language exemption.
6. Departmental approval of language exemption for immigrant learners is also required for the Grade 9 examination.

A. A child or dependant of a diplomatic representative of a foreign government accredited in South Africa, or
B. any person who
  • first entered the South African education system at Grade 7 level or at a more senior grade level, or

  • having begun his or her schooling in the South African education system, attended school outside South Africa for two or more consecutive years after Grade 6, or its equivalent.


In the case where two languages are required for certification, immigrants as defined above need to offer only one official language, provided that the one language that is not offered is replaced with another subject by exercising one of the following options:

8.1 Approval to offer one language and five other subjects

Learners who choose not to replace the second approved (official) language with another language, may obtain a Senior Certificate without endorsement, but may also qualify for conditional exemption for immigrants.

8.2 Approval for exemption from the requirement of having to pass a second approved language
8.2.1 Immigrant learners may prefer to be exempted from the requirement of having to pass a second approved language, but may still take it as part of their course of study.
8.2.2 Learners exercising this choice (see 8.2.1) and who pass the second approved language may qualify for a certificate with matriculation endorsement. Those who fail the language may obtain a Senior Certificate without endorsement. If they obtain at least 20% in the language, they may also qualify for conditional exemption for immigrants.

Learners exempted from passing a second approved language must nevertheless take a second approved language and must satisfy the applicable assessment requirements, including the writing of examinations for the evaluation of their progress.

8.3 Approval to replace a second approved language with another language

An immigrant learner who qualifies for language exemption may replace the second approved language with a language from Group D or his/her home language on the Advanced Level for the British or similar General Certificate of Education.

This A-level subject may only be offered by learners who qualify for language exemption and not as a seventh subject by non-language exemption learners.


Learners who are exempted from the requirement of taking a second approved language and who wish to obtain matriculation endorsement must take another language in its place. This may be one of the following languages:

9.1 A language from Group D, e.g. Arabic HG, Latin HG, French HG, German Third Language HG or SG, Hebrew HG, Xhosa Third Language HG or SG
9.2 Languages which are offered by other recognised examining bodies, e.g. Portuguese HG or SG and Spanish HG or SG
9.3 His/her home language on the Advanced Level for the British or similar General Certificate of Education if it is not already covered under 9.1 or 9.2
9.4 German First Language HG in lieu of a First Language HG subject from Group A in the case of a German-speaking learner


  • If a language in lieu of an approved (official) second language is chosen from 9.1 or 9.2 above, the compulsory First Language must be a university language of instruction from Group A (e.g. English), passed on the HG.

  • Learners who exercise choice 9.3 above must, for matriculation endorsement,

    • pass the language at A level and also

    • pass a university language of instruction at First Language HG or SG level, or Second Language HG level, with at least 40%.

    • These learners are required to pass their home language within a period of 6 months before to 6 months after writing their Senior Certificate Examination. The result of this examination must be sent to the Department without delay for the purpose of issuing a certificate.

      The onus rests with the learner to make the necessary arrangements for the A level examination with the British Council at the following address:

      PO Box 1469					
      Telephone: 021 462 3921

  • Learners who exercise choice 9.4 above must also pass a university language of instruction (e.g. English) at First Language HG or SG level, or Second Language HG level with at least 40%.

10.1 Learners who comply with all the requirements (except that of the second language) for matriculation endorsement and who choose
  • either to be exempted from the obligation of passing a second approved language

  • or to take only one approved language along with five other subjects,

and later realise that they would like to be considered for matriculation endorsement, may, (in accordance with Matriculation Board regulations) qualify for conditional exemption for immigrants.

10.2 Learners who qualify for a certificate of conditional exemption for immigrants, and thus conditional admission to a university, must in advance check whether the university of their choice accepts students with certificates of conditional exemption for immigrants, as this is not the case at all universities.
10.3 A Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement will be issued to these immigrant learners when they satisfy the language requirements by passing one of the following:
  • A second approved language at HG level

  • One of the languages listed in 9.1, 9.2, 9.3 or 9.4

10.4 When the language requirement is fulfilled by passing a beginner's course in a language at university level, application can be made for a Certificate of Complete Exemption.

NOTE: This certificate is issued by SAUVCA (the Matriculation Board) and not by UMALUSI and learners are therefore not awarded a Senior Certificate with matriculation endorsement.

10.5 If a student with conditional exemption for immigrants satisfies, at a South African university, within the prescribed period of time, the requirements for a bachelor's degree for which matriculation endorsement is a prerequisite, but still does not satisfy the language requirement, a Certificate of Complete Exemption is issued to him or her. The learner will not receive a Senior Certificate with endorsement.

11. NB: The concession to immigrant learners to use a dictionary in the Senior Certificate examinations is hereby withdrawn. Thus, from 2005, no such concession will be granted.

12.1 The attached form (Addendum A) must be completed when applying for language exemption.
12.2 All applications for language exemption must be submitted to the Department via the circuit manager.
12.3 The Departmental letter of exemption or approval will be sent directly to the school and a copy of the letter to the circuit manager.
12.4 The exemption or approval date must, in the case of a full-time learner, be registered on the learner's record and the letter of exemption/approval must be attached to the record card when he or she is transferred to a new school.
12.5 An application for exemption must be made immediately the learner is admitted to a school for the first time in South Africa and not only when he or she is entered for an examination.


12.6 Learners who are domiciled temporarily in South Africa require a study permit issued by the Department of Internal Affairs. A copy of the permit must accompany an application for language exemption.
12.7 Private learners who qualify for the concession to immigrants must apply directly to the Department for the concession.

13. Should you have any uncertainty regarding any of the regulations contained in this circular, you may contact any of the following persons:
Mr V Deacon Telephone 021 467 2336 Vyv Deacon (vdeacon@pgwc.gov.za)
Ms H du Toit Telephone 021 467 2917 Hennie Du Toit (hfdutoit@pgwc.gov.za)
Mr T Magwaca Telephone 021 467 2626 Joel Magwaca (tmagwaca@pgwc.gov.za)

DATE: 2005:05:03

Application form  (size: 12 KB)