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ARE YOU OBLIGED TO SEND YOUR CHILD/REN BACK TO SCHOOL ON 01 JUNE 2020?


The President of the Republic of South Africa recorded, in his address to the nation on 24 May 2020, that children will not be forced to attend school. However, the following must be considered: -

According to the South African Schools Act (No. 84 of 1996 (“SASA”), parents are obligated to send their children to school from the first school day of the year in which their child reaches the age of seven, until the last school day of the year in which the learner reaches the age of 15 (fifteen) or Grade 9 (nine) – whichever comes first. Once children pass this age limit, they are no longer required to go to school by law – and can therefore be withdrawn.

However, it is possible for parents to remove children who are of school-going age from their current school and implement home-schooling.

KEEPING YOUR CHILDREN AT HOME:

Parents who take their children out of school for the rest of 2020 will need to consider the following:

  • According to the SASA, a parent who does not want to comply with the school duty requirements must obtain permission from the provincial education department to do so. This is in alignment with section 4(1), which states: “A Head of Department may exempt a learner entirely, partially, or conditionally from compulsory school attendance if it is in the best interests of the learner”.

  • If this permission is received, consideration may be given to registering the learner for home-schooling with a curriculum provider who will certify the learner for the grade at the end of the year.

  • Non-registration with a curriculum provider means that the child will have no proof of the year’s learning and that no formal certificate (report) will be issued for the year.

  • The parent must understand that any public school will have the right to determine the standard of home-schooling, whether or not a certificate has been issued.

It must be noted that should the parents of students who are withdrawn from school want to enrol their children at a public school in 2021, the following considerations must be kept in mind:

  • The learner is a new application like any other applicant and must be dealt with in terms of the school’s admission policy. This means that if there is no space for the student, they will not be able to enroll – even if it is the same school they had previously attended.

  • The school can conduct a “placement assessment” to decide if the learner has the necessary knowledge and skills to be placed in the same grade.

  • The child will not necessarily be promoted to the next grade with his or her age group, unless there is a formal certification to show that the content has been mastered for 2020.The school may, therefore, place the child in the same grade in which he or she was enrolled in 2020.

In respect of private schools, the above principals will be applicable, and you would need to review the terms and conditions of your contract with the school before making such a decision, as there may be early termination penalties.

THE RIGHTS OF SCHOOLS 

Schools may not stop parents from removing their children from schools, but it is necessary that the administrative process is applied.

This includes the relevant paperwork, as well as the school discussing the situation with the parents to ensure they have enough information to make an informed decision.

If the learner leaves, the school will have no obligation to support the child at home unless the provincial education department’s registration conditions require them to.

Certain cases can be dealt with internally – such as learners with underlying illnesses being allowed to remain enrolled at the school and receive support while remaining at home.

A CONTRACTUAL RESPONSIBILITY: -

There is, of course, another layer of concern for many parents: Finances-

Many are feeling the pinch and can’t afford school fees. But parents have to remember that they have a contractual responsibility to keep in mind, and a school can take legal action if they breach that contract - such as failing to pay school fees. 

Parents who are struggling should contact the school and find out if they qualify for school fees exemption or if there are any other arrangements the school may consider.

That said, it’s always advisable to not just stop paying school fees; try and be as transparent and honest with the school as possible. Remember, this is also about the child’s best interests.

Feel free to give us a call on 010 109 1055 or email us at greg@kernattorneys.co.za to review the contract with your children’s school and advise and or assist with any school related matter.

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