Minister instructs schools to enrol all undocumented children

A Rwandan asylum seeker told GroundUp she has been to the Western Cape Metro North Education District, but officials refused to help her enrol her child without a study permit. Western Cape education department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the province was busy drafting its circular for schools.
A Rwandan asylum seeker told GroundUp she has been to the Western Cape Metro North Education District, but officials refused to help her enrol her child without a study permit. Western Cape education department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond said the province was busy drafting its circular for schools.
Image: GroundUp/Tariro Washinyira

Following a ruling by the Eastern Cape high court (Grahamstown) on December 12 that schools should admit undocumented children, the department of basic education has now issued a circular instructing schools to comply.

On Tuesday, minister Angie Motshekga sent a circular for provincial education departments, heads of provincial government sections, district directors, school governing bodies, school principals, all South African schools and governing body associations to follow the precedent set by the court.

Judge president Selby Mbenenge ruled that the education department could not remove or exclude “children, including illegal foreign children, already admitted, purely by reason of the fact that the children have no identity document number, permit or passport, or have not produced any identification documents”.

However, at the start of this school year, GroundUp found schools that were still turning away undocumented immigrant children despite the ruling and a previous circular sent in July last year by the acting director-general of the department of basic education SG Padayachee instructing public schools to accept undocumented children conditionally while their parents try to obtain documents.

Spokesperson for the African Diaspora Forum, Amur Sheikh, said: “We hope to see the full implementation of the circular. We will also be visiting schools that have been known for making admission difficult for migrant children.”

This article was first published by GroundUp.


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