Answer to a question from a reader

How can I register for Grade 11 if I have been out of school for a long time?

The short answer

If you are younger than 21, you would apply to a school by the last day of the first term, for the following year.

The whole question

Dear Athalie

I left school because I didn't have an ID. Now that I have it, how can I register for Grade 11?

The long answer

If you are a South African citizen, it’s compulsory for you to attend school from the age of six (Grade 1) to the age of 15, when you complete Grade 9. Because it is only compulsory for a child to be in school from grade 1 to the end of grade 9, the Education Department is not compelled to find you a place in a school after that.

You don’t say how old you are, but there are many pupils who have repeated a year or more, and so are older than others in their grade. But if you are more than three years older than the average age of Grade 11 pupils, the school can reject your application, on the grounds that it could be difficult for teachers to teach learners who are at different developmental stages in one class. The average age for Grade 11 would be about 17 years old.

The Gauteng Education Department’s spokesman has said that the cut-off age for school-goers is 21. After that youngsters should consider options like Adult Basic Education and Training colleges (ABET) or Technikons.

Usually, you would apply to a school by the last day of the first term, for the following year. It may be that these rules have changed due to the schools shutting down because of the coronavirus. You could ask the Education Department about this at their helpline number: 0800 202 933.

The school principal must give a parent or guardian the admission policy of the school and explain it. A public school is not allowed to make a pupil write a test for admission to the school. 

These are the documents that parents need when they apply to a school for their children:

  • Birth certificate

  • Immunisation card; and

  • Transfer card or last school report card for learners who have been to school previously.

In your case, you would probably need your last school report besides your birth certificate or ID.

In 2019, the Department of Basic Education approved a revised Senior Certificate, that you can study for if you are over 21 and you have a Grade 9 report stating that you passed the year. Exams are written in June and July. 

If you pass the exams for this amended Senior Certificate, you can apply for national qualifications and diplomas and if you get high enough marks, you can get a university endorsement which means you can apply for university entrance. 

Don’t give up on your education! Bear in mind that Section 29 (1) of South Africa’s Constitution reads: “Everyone has the right to a basic education, including adult basic education; and to further education, which the state, through reasonable measures, must make progressively available and accessible.”

Wishing you the best,

Answered on March 26, 2021, 10:05 a.m.

See more questions and answers

Please note. We are not lawyers or financial advisors. We do our best to make the answers accurate, but we cannot accept any legal liability if there are errors.