Responsibilities of Parents - A Guide to Public School
The South African
Schools Act of 1996 requires all children between the ages of
7 and 15 to attend school. All parents and guardians must make
sure that all learners of this age are registered to go to
school. As a parent, your relationship with the school starts
on the day that you decide to register your child with a
particular school. This relationship is defined by a set of
rights and responsibility towards the school.
At what age can my
child be registered for school?
You can only register
for grade 1 when s/he is seven years old or will be turning
seven in the first year of schooling.
When and where do I
register my child?
You may only register
your child in a school near your home or workplace between
August and November in the year before the child start
Can I register my
child at any school even if it is not near my home or
Yes, you can register
your child at any public school. However, most schools give
first preference to children whose parents live or work near
What do I need to know
before I register my child?
The principal of the
school must give you the admissions policy of the school and
explain it to you. You should also
ask which language/s are used for teaching at the school and
decide if that is suitable for your child.
public school may not administer any test for admission to a
school. A test may only be used for deciding which courses or
programmes your child should do at the school.
Which documents are
required when making an application?
Birth Certificate; and
Immunisation card; and
Transfer card or last school report card for learners who have
been to school previously.
(Note that baptismal
certificates will not be regarded as proof of birth
documents are required if I am not a South African
Study permit; and
Temporary or permanent residence permit form the Department of
Home Affairs; or
Evidence that you have applied for permission to stay in
How do I know if my
child has been accepted at the school?
Department of Education, through the school principal, must
inform you about the outcome of your application.
What can I do if my
child is refused admission to a school?
You can request a
written explanation from the provincial department, through
the school principal. If you are not satisfied with the
reasons given for the decision, you may lodge a written appeal
to the MEC for Education in the province.
Do I have to pay
The school may ask you
to pay school fees. However, if you cannot afford the required
amount or can pay a lesser amount a lesser amount, you may
write a letter to the school governing body (SGB), requesting
exemption from paying school fees. The school governing body
will inform you of its decision. A copy of the regulations
dealing with school fees is obtainable at the school. The
school must also assist you if you need help with your
application for exemption.
How do I appeal
against the decision of the SGB?
You can lodge an
appeal with the Head of Department in the province. S/he will
explain the reasons if you were not granted
is determined that you can afford to pay the fees, and fail to
do so, legal steps can be taken
against you to ensure that you pay any outstanding
(Note that no child
may be refused admission to school due to parent's inability
to pay school fees. The school may also not withhold your
child's results or exclude him/her any educational activity if
you cannot afford to pay school fees.)
What is a school
school governing body is a structure that governs the school.
It stands in a position of trust towards the school. It is
made up of the principal, elected representatives of
educators, non-educator staff, parents and learners in the
case of secondary schools.
How do I get elected
to represent other parents on the governing
You can represent
other parents on a governing body if you are nominated and
voted for by parents.
How do I get to know
about the election process?
The principal of the
school is required by law to provide all parents with
information about the election of parents onto the governing
What happens if I'm
not elected onto the school governing body?
Even if you are not
elected onto the school governing body, you still have the
RIGHT to be involved in the affairs of the school through
attending meetings of parents.
You also have the
RIGHT to be consulted by the educators or the principal about
the schooling activities of our child. The principal and the
educators at the school must timeously notify you about the
behaviour, attendance and learning progress of you
Who makes the decision
about school matters?
The Head of
Department, through the principal, taking decisions about
funding, discipline of learners and governance of the
Where can I lodge an
objection against a decision or action?
You can lodge an
objection against a decision or action of:
an educator to the
a principal to the Head of Education
in the province;
a representative council of learners
to the school governing body; and,
a school governing body and or member
to the MEC or Head of Department
What does the
Language-in-Education Policy say?
Language-in-Education Policy encourages learners to learn more
that one language. It also encourages them to use the language
that they best understand as the language of learning and
teaching and to maintain this language throughout as they
learn other languages as subjects or add other languages as
languages of instruction.
Will my child not be
disadvantage by being taught in a language other than English?
Learning in the first
formal schooling years in the home language ensures a solid
foundation for future learning, as well as the acquisition of
Who decides on the
language of learning and teaching?
The school governing
body must decide on the language of learning and teaching used
in a school. The language used will depend on the preference
of the majority of learners in the school and the ability of
the school to teach in the preferred language. In addition,
the school governing body needs to indicate how it will
promote multilingualism in the school.
Does my child have
options regarding the language of learning and teaching in a
Yes. Each learner
must, upon registration at a school, indicate the preferred
language of learning and teaching. Any of our eleven languages
may be indicated as the language of learning and teaching in a
What if the school
does not offer my choice?
Should there be 40
requests per Grades 1-6 or 35 per Grades 7-12 for instruction
in a language not already offered in a school, the provincial
department will need to find means of meeting your
What are my
responsibilities as a parent with regard to payment of school
Schools may charge
school fees in order to supplement the funds provided by the
Department of Education. As a parent you are responsible for
paying your child's school fees. If you cannot afford part of
or the entire amount, you must apply for exemption as soon as
possible from the school governing body. The school governing
body will assess your situation and let you know of its
decision. Note that, if you have not been exempted from paying
and it is determined that you can afford to pay school fees
and you fail to do so, legal steps may be taken against you to
ensure that you pay any outstanding amount.
How can I contribute
towards the development of the school?
The South African
Schools Act gives the school governing body the responsibility
to strive for the development of the school. There are many
ways in which the school governing body can do this. One of
the ways is to encourage parents, learners, educators and
other staff to render voluntary services to the
a parent, you have a responsibility to contribute towards the
development of the school by rendering services to the school.
This may include making yourself available to participate in
the activities of the school such as the maintenance of school
property, auditing of financial statements, managing sports
What role can I play
in supporting the learning process of my child?
Your child is in the
custody of the school staff when s/he is at the school. The
school staff can successfully carryout their teaching
responsibilities if they receive the support of the
a parent you have the responsibility to:
assist with the discipline of your child;
monitor your child's educational progress;
ensure that s/he completes her/his homework;
ensure that s/he attends school;
liaise with the school staff.
How can I keep abreast
of the developments at the school?
Parents of learners
must take responsibility for attending school meetings that
are organised for them. The school governing body is legally
bound to report to the parents of learners at the school form
time to time and should keep parents informed about issues
that affect them.
(Note that you have
the right to request any additional information of your
interest form the SGB and the principal of the
Please contact any of
the following provincial Departments of Education at these
Published by the
Education Human Resources Development, Gender Equity and
School Safety Chief Directorate and the Directorate: National
and Provincial Communication, Department of
Sol Plaatje House,