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How Does It Work?

Education in SA is not free and for many it is not cheap but every child has a right (as per the Constitution) to schooling.

Parents have a right to apply to any public school to see if they can receive a partial or even total reduction in school fees (and the school cannot then kick your kid out or withhold exam results or anything).

No Fees

Some schools, located in specific communities, are designated by the Minister of Education as free (no Fees).

The following also automatically qualify for free education at public schools in SA

    • An orphan in an orphanage;
    • A learner who has a foster parent;
    • A learner placed in a youth care centre or a place of safety;
    • A learner who has been placed in the care of a family member;
    • A child who heads a household or is part of a child-headed household;
    • Parents who receive a social grant on behalf of the same learner (child support grant).

Types of Exemptions

Partial Exemption

If the school fees are between 3.5% and 10% of your combined income then you qualify for a partial exemption. It works on a curve and the school will let you know how much the reduction will be.

Note: If you have more than one child at a school then if the fees are between 2 and 3% of your income you should discuss what exemption you will qualify for.

Full Exemption

If the school fees are 10% or more of your total income then you will qualify for a total fee exemption. You will not have to pay any fees.

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Do You Qualify?


In the past schools might look at the combined income of both parents even though they were divorced. Now the law has changed (after a SCA ruling) and the parent paying the school fees income is the one that is considered (and yes that income might include a maintenance payment). The school can however approach the other parent in regard to outstanding fees or paying a portion.

How To Apply

You can contact the school direct and ask what forms are needed.

It is best to do this at the start of the year.

They will ask for some proof of income etc to substantiate your application but it will be worth it to see if you can qualify.

For More Info

For more information you can visit the Department of Basic Education’s website:

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