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Press Release: Refugee learner starts school despite Department’s refusal to admit her

For Imme­di­ate Release: 1 Feb­ru­ary 2017


On 31 Jan­u­ary 2017, Mrs T, a refugee, after seek­ing assis­tance from the Legal Resources Cen­tre (LRC), was able to reg­is­ter her daugh­ter in Grade 1 after con­sid­er­able dif­fi­cul­ties with the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion.


On 19 April 2016, Mrs T approached the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion to apply for her daugh­ter, who is also a refugee, to be placed in Grade 1 in 2017.  When she applied, Mrs T was advised that she would receive an SMS indict­ing which school her daugh­ter would be placed in.


By 9 Jan­u­ary 2017, Mrs T had not received any com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the school (which was her first choice) even though they stated they would inform her of the progress of the appli­ca­tion.  She then approached them and was informed by the school that her daugh­ter could not be admit­ted because she was not on the Depart­ment of Education’s list.


On 11 Jan­u­ary 2017, which would have been the first day of the school year, Mrs T approached the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion to make fur­ther enquiries as to what to do to place her daugh­ter in the school.  She was instructed to fill in a new form and was then told she would be con­tacted soon.


After a week Mrs T still had not received any com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion and so vis­ited their offices again. On this visit she was informed that her daugh­ter was not placed in a school because her daugh­ter does not have an iden­tity num­ber and, there­fore, does not qual­ify for place­ment in pub­lic schools. 


She was fur­ther advised that she would need to get a pass­port and a study visa for her daugh­ter in order to reg­is­ter for a pub­lic school.


At this point she had missed two weeks of school.


After an inter­ven­tion from the LRC office in Johan­nes­burg, in which we sent a let­ter to the Depart­ment stat­ing that the Constitution’s right to edu­ca­tion extends to “every­one”, includ­ing asy­lum seek­ers and refugees, the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion reached out to Mrs T. On 31 Jan­u­ary 2017, the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion informed Mrs T that she may approach her school of first choice to reg­is­ter her daugh­ter.


Today will be Mrs T’s daughter’s first day of school.







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