Single parents react to school fee exemption ruling

Single parents speak out.
Single parents speak out.

We recently wrote an article about how school fee exemption applications are now made easier for single parents and the response was amazing.

Many of the responses were shared by single parents who experience the struggles and are relieved that something is finally being done about their situations. Others are still questioning the ruling and feel that more should be done or the focus should be shifted from single parenting. 

As a single parent, how do you feel about this ruling? Let us know by emailing us on and we could publish your comments. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous. 

Here are some of the responses we received from readers:

1. It's a financial lifeline

Single parents feel that this ruling is important because it will help manage or cut down on daily expenses, which can already be a lot to work with at times. Children are quite costly and you find yourself needing to cover unforeseen expenses all the time, and it can be tough to keep up.

One reader said:

“I honestly think it is a great idea ... as I have two kids with no support from the father. ... Our daily living expenses are increasing daily.”

Another reader said: 

"I find this ruling to be absolutely amazing. I am a single mom and have always applied for school fee exemption for my daughter. It has always been an absolute mission as her father lives in the UK and doesn't help to support her financially. When the school had sent the exemption application to him via email (as it was assessed on a combined income), he mailed them back and told them he will pay for nothing and must get fees from me.

"I was fortunate enough that the school allowed me to apply with my parents (who are pensioners) as the second parent. If this ruling allows for the exemption to be assessed solely on my income, it will make things SO much easier for me."

2. When baby daddy is awol

As you can imagine, certain situations are more complicated than others and it may not be easy to get the contact details of your child's other parent, especially if you aren't in contact with them at all. This ruling will alleviate that stress.

One reader said:

“I find this a great relief and the sooner it is added to the Act, the better. I’m an example of how the school failed my child. I'm a single mom and enrolled my daughter on my own for Grade 1. She is now Grade 5.

"This is the first year that I have applied for exemption and I qualified for 87% exemption. The school has until now not returned with an approval or decline. They wanted the father’s details, which I don't have. Our relationship is toxic and schools make this worse for the already struggling parent. The documents they want is ridiculous and a waste of time.”

3. It's all about giving all kids a good education

Ultimately, it really is about children receiving an education. Single parents are trying the best they can but it isn't easy. 

One reader said:

“This is such a relief. As a single parent it’s been difficult for me paying school fees and aftercare fees. It’s not easy being a single parent and previously I had to make loans to pay school fees to prevent being handed over to lawyers. Now that I can’t afford loans and my ex is not paying maintenance due to unemployment, it has been difficult for me to make ends meet each month. All I want is to give my child the best education.

"Previously when I applied for an exemption I was told I earn too much as I had to put a combined income on my application form. I am really thankful for this new ruling and look forward to the new year and hope I will qualify for an exemption so that I can save money for his other school expenses.”

4. When the combined income is too high

When parents are assessed on both incomes, they may not be granted an exemption which makes it difficult for a single parent to cover the expenses. 

One reader says:    

"This is such good news. A little late for my son's school fees. I have a bad record at school because I cannot afford to pay his school fees and every year I get handed over to attorneys because together myself and my ex earn "too much". I am very happy for all the single parents out there."

5. The humiliation

It can be really disheartening to constantly receive messages about outstanding fees, especially when your child has to witness all of it.

One reader says:  

"I am a single parent who went through a tough time convincing my child's school that I can't pay her school fees anymore. I got a partial exemption which I couldn't manage to pay up to this date. I cringe when I receive all the messages to pay as I really can't. I would love to but just can't manage to pay the school fees as a single parent..." 

“Having the continuous fear that my children will be victimised at school”

Another reader says:

"I believe this is the greatest gift you can give any child. Education is of utmost importance for any child, being a single mother of 2 children. Supporting them both from 8 months old with an absent father, it hasn't been the easiest task ensuring my duty to these 2 innocent souls.

"Having the continuous fear that my children will be victimised at school because school fees are a struggle or them being emotionally abused by others, where clothing, stationery and even lunch are criticised. Not realising the difficulty to even put a meal on the table. This law is such a blessing for parents like myself that have two growing kids in school. I thank the person that has thought about the future of our country for their selflessness.”

6. What if single parents are seen as a financial risk and their children's applications are not accepted?

A reader feels that single parents may be condemned as a result of this ruling: 

7. What about married parents who don't qualify for exemption but can't afford school fees?

Some readers feel that the focus shouldn't be on single parents when it comes to education.

One reader says:

Another says:  

8. Who picks up the tab then?

Will the financial burden fall on others now? One reader says: 

As a single parent, how do you feel about this ruling? Let us know by emailing us at and we could publish your comments. Do let us know if you'd like to remain anonymous. 

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