Press Release: Refugee learner starts school despite Department’s refusal to admit her
Published by the Legal Resources Centre 1 February 2017
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 non-South Africans, 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.