It was common practice that both parents of children had to submit their income and expenditure to the schools which their children attend.

This was most predominantly used when parents were applying for any exemptions for their children’s school fees.

This was the practice even if the parents were divorced or separated. This posed a lot of stress on the primary care giver of the child when paying for all the child/children’s educational needs in spite of their poor financial disposition.

The stress caused on the parents and children involved has and still is an epidemic that is widely felt especially by single headed households. It has especially become evident that these unneccesary and aviodable stresses filter down to these children.

It has been agreed that something needed to be done in order to give children their inherent right to education as enshrined in the Constitution and The Childrens Act, irrespective of their upbringing and the circumstances.

New law on school fee exemptions:

A new court ruling has ajudicated on this point in an effort to relieve the stress on the single headed households that are looking for the best education for their children.

As aforementioned, it was the status quo for both parents to submit their income and expenditure so that the exemption could be appropriately calculated, which was often at times very embarrassing for all parties envolved as parents would have to show that they were “too poor” to pay the required school fee prices.

The school governing bodies will now be given new and improved criteria in which to follow when they are deciding on which parents should be given such exemptions. This is to give regard to the childs right to good education instead of punishing the child due to the parents inability to pay their fees.

The law previously stated that both parents of a child, whether married or not were jointly and severally liable for their childs school fees. The Supreme Court of Appeal however has ruled that single parents applying for exemptions will be assessed on based on their own individual financial means.

How can one apply and what is the process of obtaining an exemption?:

The parent(s) would be required to contact the school and fill out the necessary paper work. This would include having  to agree to sumbit to a credit check which will confirm  employment details.

The court ruled that parents will not need to disclose their entire financial position to the schools when applying. This saves parents from feelingembarassed when making the application to the school. .

The School’s Governing Body and the principal of the school will then review the application and then decide whether or not to grant an exemption.


It is of importance to note that although South Africa is making great strides to protect the rights of children, it also sympathizes with parents taking into account the current prevailing economic times, the scarcity of jobs and unemployment as well as the ever increasing burden of single parent households.

For any advice and or assistance on school fee affairs, maintenance and other children related issues feel free to contact us on 031 003 0630 or

Website, facebook and Instagram – Follow