With learners back at school, parents may be worried about paying fees. Applying for a school fee exemption can lighten the financial load.
Tshegofatso Mothapo from Lawyers for Human Rights said schools and principals have the duty to encourage parents and learners to apply for exemptions.
Mothapo said the application process takes place yearly at the beginning of each school year and it is open to all parents, including parents who are non-Citizens.
There are 3 types of exemptions:
- Automatic exemption - for children who are in a situation beyond their control and have no parent in their life. This usually applies to children who are either abandoned or placed in child youth care centres
- Partial exemption - granted to parents, usually after a means test that considers their income is completed.
- Conditional exemption - determined by a change in circumstances where parents are no longer able to pay the school fees.
The Schools Act states that schools should make information about exemptions readily available to parents.
Usually, the process of applying for an exemption happens within the first 2 weeks that learners return to school.
Applications are then looked at by the school and accepted or denied after 30 days.
"If they are unhappy with that process then they can appeal at the Head Of Department (HOD) at the provincial level. They can wait a further 30 days and following that, if they are still unhappy with that process, the HOD must give written reasons. The last process would be for them to give a judicial review at the high court within 180 days of receiving that decision." said Mothapo.
However, not all schools are transparent and upfront about fee exemptions. Parents have been advised to approach school administrators for more information about the application process.