How can matric learners without IDs apply to write their final exams?

"No child will be turned away." (subman/Getty Images)
"No child will be turned away." (subman/Getty Images)

The following question is part of Groundup's Answers to your questions series and comes from a reader asking how matric learners without IDs can go about acquiring one to write their final exams. 

How can matric learners without IDs apply for one to write their final exams?

The short answer

You may wish to consult the following organisations for advice

The whole question

How can matric learners without IDs apply for an ID to write their final exams? Also, what if they aren't South African citizens?

The long answer

In 2019 more than 13 000 undocumented students wrote their matric. This followed a hugely important judgement by Judge President of the Eastern Cape, Selby Mbenenge in the Makhanda High Court in December 2019.

The court found that Section 29 of the Constitution protected the right of all children to basic education, whether or not they had official documentation, and that clauses 15 and 19 of the schools Admission Policy for Ordinary Public Schools of 1998 were unconstitutional.

Clause 15 required a parent to present the school with an official birth certificate for the learner, and if the parent could not present the birth certificate, the child could be admitted conditionally until the certificate was obtained from Home Affairs.

If the birth certificate was not forthcoming from Home Affairs within 3 months, subsequently amended to 12 months, the learner could be excluded from the school.

Clause 21, dealing with admission of non-citizens, required a parent to prove that they had applied to Home Affairs to legalise their stay in the country under the Aliens Control Act of 1991.

The judge found both clauses unconstitutional and said that undocumented children should not be punished for the choices of their parents or caregivers, and no child should be excluded from an education, which was fundamentally important to the development of the child and its future ability to become employed and live with dignity.

The Education Department was interdicted from excluding or removing any child, even illegal foreign children, after being admitted to school simply because the child did not have an ID, a birth certificate or other documentation.

Where a learner could not provide a birth certificate, school principals were ordered to accept alternate proofs of identity such as an affidavit or sworn statement by the parent, caregiver or guardian.

Previously, learners had been excluded from schools and from writing matric if they had not been able to produce documentation.

The court heard that there were almost a million undocumented learners, of whom 87% were South African, whose parents had been unable for various reasons to obtain documentation from Home Affairs.

After the attempted suicide of a learner in 2018 who was told he could not write his matric without an ID number, the Education Department spokesman Muzi Mahlambi said at the time: “There is no child who cannot write because they don't have an ID. No child will be turned away. We will intervene.” In the case of undocumented foreign learners, the Education Dept would “allow these candidates to register to write the examination. But these candidates will not have their results issued until they produce the necessary documentation.”  

Despite the 2019 Makhanda court ruling, whether undocumented matric candidates will be issued with matric certificates is still at issue.

Umalusi (the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training) is the body that issues matric certificates.

In January 2020, the Umalusi spokesperson, Lucky Ditaunyane, said that undocumented learners are issued with their matric certificates with their date of birth rather than ID number. He said that the certificate would be as good as one with an ID number when applying for a job or for university.

But higher education institutions require a copy of the applicant’s ID, as does the NSFAS (National Student Financial Aid Scheme), so the road ahead is still a rocky one for undocumented learners.

Elijah Mhlanga of the Basic Education department advised parents to speedily apply to Home Affairs for assistance in obtaining IDs as their children would continue to face problems if they were undocumented. Without their own IDs parents cannot apply for documents for their school-going children, nor open bank accounts or access child support grants.

When applying for an ID, DHA Form B1-9 must be filled out in black ink at Home Affairs. If there is no birth certificate, forms DHA-24, DHA-24/A x 2 and DHA-288 must be filled in to register the birth.

The problem is that Home Affairs is generally admitted to be increasingly dysfunctional and takes an inordinately long time to deal with applications.

Parents, particularly those who are not South African and who are struggling with these problems, may wish to consult the following organisations for advice and assistance:

Scalabrini Centre (Cape Town)


Tel: 021 465 6433

Legal Resources Centre


Tel: Cape Town: 021 481 3000

Tel: Johannesburg: 011 836 9831  

Lawyers for Human Rights

Tel: Cape Town: 021 424 8561

Johannesburg Office and law clinic

Tel: 011 339 1960

Answered on June 22, 2020, 9:21 a.m.

Published originally on GroundUp.

Chat back:

Share your story with Parent24. Anonymous contributions are welcome.

Email: Share your story with us via email at chatback @

Sign up for Parent24's newsletters.

Read more: 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Eskom has considered continuous load shedding at Stage 2, instead of introducing it when the power system faces a crunch. What are your thoughts?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
I'm all for it - we're going to have power cuts regardless, so we might as well have some stability to better plan our lives
45% - 4256 votes
No thanks! I prefer having periods of no load shedding and we cannot normalise this crisis
55% - 5130 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.