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South African Schools Act, 1996 (Act No. 84 of 1996)

Chapter 2 : Learners

5. Admission to public schools



1) A public school must admit learners and serve their educational requirements without unfairly discriminating in any way.


2) The governing body of a public school may not administer any test related to the admission of a learner to a public school, or direct or authorise the principal of the school or any other person to administer such test.


3) No learner may be refused admission to a public school on the grounds that his or her parent
a) is unable to pay or has not paid the school fees determined by the governing body under section 39;
b) does not subscribe to the mission statement of the school; or
c) has refused to enter into a contract in terms of which the parent waives any claim for damages arising out of the education of the learner.
a) The admission age of a learner to a public school to –
i) grade R is age four turning five by 30 June in the year of admission;
ii) grade 1 is age five turning six by 30 June in the year of admission.
b) Subject to the availability of suitable school places and other educational resources, the Head of Department may admit a learner who –
i) is under the age contemplated in paragraph (a) if good cause is shown; and
ii) complies with the criteria contemplated in paragraph (c).
c) The Minister may, by regulation, prescribe –
i) criteria for the admission to a public school, at an age lower than the admission age, of an underage learner who complies with the criteria;
ii) age requirements for different grades at a public school.
d) For the purpose of paragraph (b)(i), good cause shown means that –
i) it can be shown that exceptional circumstances exist which necessitate the admission of an underage learner because admission would be in his or her best interest; and
ii) the refusal to admit that learner would be severely detrimental to his or her development.


5) Subject to this Act and any applicable provincial law, the admission policy of a public school is determined by the governing body of such school.


6) In determining the placement of a learner with special education needs, the Head of Department and principal must take into account the fights and wishes of the parents of such learner.


7) An application for the admission of a learner to a public school must be made to the education department in a manner determined by the Head of Department.


8) If an application in terms of subsection (7) is refused, the Head of Department must inform the parent in writing of such refusal and the reason therefor.


9) Any learner or parent of a learner who has been refused admission to a public school may appeal against the decision to the Member of the Executive Council.