No, you don't have to pay a new school registration fee every year

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'It is urgent that we get every child back into the classroom, safely, now.'
'It is urgent that we get every child back into the classroom, safely, now.'

The Department of Basic Education has confirmed that it is illegal to demand a registration fee from parents as a prerequisite for school enrolment.

We receive too many mails and messages from distraught parents who are unable to afford these unexpected and unreasonable fees. 

Coupled with often excessive school stationery lists, book fees, fundraising expectations and more, on top of school fees, for many families the costs can be crippling.

As one parent wrote to share "My child's (Gauteng-based) school is asking R2100-00 registration fees for 2021. My daughter has been in the school since 2016 and every year they ask to pay registration fees. This is ridiculous, and on top you need to pay school fees of R1950-00, and we have to buy all the stationery and books."  

Another shared the letter they received from the school: "Dear Parent, According to our records, your fees account is in arrears. Please pay 75% of the debt owing plus R500 re-registration immediately. The learner will not be allowed in class unless that amount is paid and an arrangement is made with the school to settle the outstanding amount. Regards, (a Pretoria based school)" 

So it is a welcome relief to receive assurance that a registration fee is unnecessary.  

Enforcing the law 

The law also says that no child can be refused admission to a school because his or her parents cannot afford to pay school fees, and a child cannot be refused results of tests or exams, sent home from school, if fees have not been paid.

If this problem arises, contact the principal and explain that the action is against the law, and also report them to the district office of the education department.

Parents can also take the matter to the School Governing Body and make complaints to the Department of Basic Education. 

Reduction in fees

To apply for a reduction in fees, the parent must:

  • Write a letter to the School Governing Body requesting to be exempted in part or totally from fees.
  • Provide a pay slip or letter from the employer explaining how much the parent earns.

If the parent is unemployed, or self employed, they should make an affidavit saying what they earn or how they support the child, for example, on a pension or a child care grant.

Also read: 'The school won't give us the report': Here's what to do


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