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03 June 2019  | Chanré Wes
The right to education is one of the absolute rights being provided for in our Constitution. It however comes with a financial burden on parents. It is school fees, book fees, fees for sports and all things fees. The question parents are always left with is what if I cannot afford it. In this atricle the writter will explore the options available to people who is stuck in this situation.

In the words of late President Nelson Mandela "education is the great engine of personal development, It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mine worker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farmworkers can become the president of the nation".

The right to education, as provided in the Constitution is an absolute right. What this means that all children is South Africa enjoys this right, and as parents, we want to give our children the best out of this. The unfortunate thing about this right is the financial burden it imposes on us that comes in the form of school fees.

School fees is an agreed amount of money payable by the parents in order to assist the schools in improving the quality of education that is being provided to the learners. School fees was never intended to be this heavy burden weighing down on you as a parent simply because you want to give your child quality education.

Truth be told, as much as we want to ensure that our children get the best education, not every one of us can afford it. Parents, you don't have to be dismayed anymore, the Department of Education has awarded you with the opportunity to apply to be exempted from paying school fees.

In order for parents to be exempted from paying school fees they have to do the following:

  • Obtain the necessary documents from the administration office of the school your children are attending. Ensure that you complete the forms in full and that all your information is on that form.
  • Attach all the relevant as requested on the form and submit it to the school. It is always wise to make copies of the forms for your own record as proof should you need it in future.
  • Within 7 days of receipt of your application, the school's governing body has to provide you with a written response which includes the reasons for their decision taken.
  • If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you may appeal to the Head of Department against the decision of the school within 30 days of receiving their decision.

    Thus, if you as a parent are struggling to pay the school fees you may apply to be exempted from paying it.

    There are four types of exemptions that exists. Firstly, it is automatic exemptions, only orphans, children with foster parents, pupils whose parents receives a social grant on their behalf and pupils placed in youth care centres or in the care of relatives qualifies for this exemption.

    Secondly, it is full exemption of school fees. In the event that the school fees is equal to 10% of your total income, you are entitled to be fully exempted from paying school fees.

    Thirdly, you may apply for partial exemption, which would only be applicable to you if the school fees are between 3,5 % and 10% of your total income.

    Lastly, it is conditional exemption, which deals with the instance where you qualify for partial exemption, but due to circumstances beyond your control, and extreme personal issues you are unable to afford school fees. Parents that does not qualify for the other types will be considered for conditional exemption provided that they can prove that in the midst of their circumstances, they cannot afford school fees.

    Government has developed this mechanism to help realise the right to access to quality education as awarded to all children in terms of the Constitution. There is thus no reason that your children's education be a financial burden to you.


    Reference list:

  • Department of Labour School fees and Exemptions (obtained from their website on 04/04/2019)
  • Law for All School Fees Exemption: How to apply
  • Legal Aid About School Fees Exemptions
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