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Schooling in SA

A parent's guide to schooling in South Africa

Once you have decided to immigrate to South Africa, there are most likely many questions going through your mind such as; how old must my child be? Am I able to educate my child at home? How do the grades work in this country? What documents will I need to provide the school with? If you have answered YES to any of these questions, you are sure to find this basic guide extremely helpfull.

What are the SA government's responsibilities regarding education?

Every South African citizen has the right to basic education and to further their studies, which the government needs to make accessible through reasonable measures. Every South African has to attend school from the age of 7 years old (grade 1) until the age of 15 (grade 9).

How old must my child be in order to start school?



A child who is five and turning six by the 30th of June the following year needs to start grade 1.  For grade 0/R, a child needs to be turning five by the 30th of June in the year that they will be attending grade R. If a parent feels like their child is not ready for school yet, they are allowed to keep them at home for 1 extra year. Most schools will require that you have your child take a school readiness test in order to determine what is going to be in the child’s best interest.

How do the grades work in SA schools?

School starts with grade 0 (or grade R) and ends with grade 12 (also known as matric). Grades 1-9 are classified as General Education and Training and are compulsory. Grade 10-12 are considered as further education. Learners generally need to complete grade 12 (matric) in order to qualify for tertiary education. Some private schools offer a further year of study after completing matric, which will allow them to write A-level examinations.

What documents do I need to admit my child to a school?

In order to enrol your child in any public school, you will only need to supply the school with the following documentation:

  • your child’s immunisation card
  • your child’s birth certificate
  • your child’s last report card or transfer card, if your child attended another school before

You may start the registration process if you do not have all the documentation immediately and the school needs to give you enough time in which to submit them. If you are not yet a SA citizen, you must also include a copy of your study permit, temporary permit or permanent residence permit. Should you not yet have a permit, you will need to provide evidence that you have in fact applied for permission to stay in SA.

Should you need further assistance with anything to do with schooling in South Africa, contact your immigration expert for advice?

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