Parents and learners know your rights and responsibilities | Western Cape Government

Parents and learners know your rights and responsibilities

learners with globeAs a South African, you have the right to basic education which includes adult basic education and further education and learning. This is assured by Section 29 (1) of our Constitution. The government has to make it possible for everyone to have access to a school and a basic education.

Schooling is compulsory for all South African children from the age of 6 (grade 1) to the age of 15, or the completion of grade 9 as stated in the South African Schools Act of 1996.

Parents and learners need to familiarise themselves with their basic rights and responsibilities to make sure that they enjoy the benefits of education in South Africa.

Learner behaviour

Every school will have a code of conduct that is the school’s framework for the creation of a culture of positive behaviour within which learners should conduct themselves. 

The code of conduct will guide learners about the behaviour that is expected of them and the consequences of their behaviour if they don’t follow the code of conduct.  

Responsibilities of parents

As a parent you should:

  • Know the school’s code of conduct and ensure that your child upholds it,
  • Strengthen the code of conduct by taking primary responsibility for your child’s discipline.
  • Get to know your child’s teacher. A good parent-teacher relationship ensures a happier child with a strong sense of security. 
  • Be involved by supporting your child’s academic and extramural activities.
  • Listen with an open mind to your child and the teacher.

Learner misconduct is divided into different levels according to the severity of their disobedience. The infringements range from level 1 for less serious misconduct to level 4 for severe misconduct. The level of the misconduct will determine the type of restorative measures a school will take to remedy the behaviour. This can be in the form of a verbal warning for minor misconduct to disciplinary hearings and suspension for more severe misconduct.
Some examples of Level 1 learner infringements are,

  • Copying of homework.
  • Late arrival for class, lines, assemblies, meetings, etc.
  • Talking either in class, lines, assemblies, during announcements, etc.
  • Vandalism (including littering).
  • Use of humiliating and suggestive language and signs.
  • Disrespectful actions towards educators or peers.
  • Absence without leave/truancy.
  • Disregard for class rules.
  • Inciting fighting, bullying behaviour (needling).

For more guidance on positive learner discipline and understanding the different levels of learner infringements, read the Learner Discipline and School Management.

Wearing religious dress to school

 In terms our Constitution, learners may not be prohibited from wearing religious clothes – such as yarmulkes (a skullcap worn in public by Orthodox Jewish men) and headscarves – to school. Schools are encouraged to have uniform policies that accommodate learners' religious beliefs.

 •See the Department of Basic Education's school uniform guidelines.

Withholding report cards until school fees are paid

A school may not withhold a report card for any reason in terms of Section 25 (12) of the National Protocol on Assessment 2011. This regulation applies to both public and independent schools from Grade R – 12.

More helpful guidelines to the rights and responsibilities of parents can be found in the Parental involvement and responsibilities in support of learning and the Guide to Public School Policy 

To assist parents and learners the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) compiled a useful list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

schoolboy in classThe WCED has established the Safe Schools Call Centre as part of the Safe Schools Programme. Educators, learners and parents can call the toll-free number to report violence, abuse, alcohol and drug abuse, vandalism and/or complaints regarding corruption in schools.

The centre's staff are able to provide initial on-line counselling for callers who need help. If further assistance is required callers are referred to experts.

This toll-free line operates from Mondays to Fridays between 8:00 and 19:30. Weekend calls are recorded and responded to on Monday mornings.

The Call Centre's operators can assist callers in Afrikaans, English and Xhosa. 

For more information please contact the Western Cape Education Department on the Safe Schools Call Centre's toll-free number:  0800 45 46 47.

You can also visit the website of the Western Cape Education DepartmentDepartment of Basic Education, or the Department of Higher Education and Training for more information. 

The content on this page was last updated on 22 March 2016