This is the first of two briefs on regulations governing entry into Gauteng’s public schools. It deals with the system as it has been since 2012. The 2012 Regulations have been challenged in court up to the Constitutional Court.

The application procedure
Entry into Gauteng’s public schools are regulated by the Regulations Relating to the Admissions of Learner’s to Public Schools.[1]   Broadly the application procedure is split into two categories – applications for entry phase learners and applications for transferring learners – regulated by Regulation 5 and Regulation 11 respectively.

Applications for Grade 1 and 8 – Entry Phase Learners
Parents are required to apply online during the admission period. On time applicants will be placed on either waiting list A or B. The school will then inform the learner, in writing, on which list he or she has been placed. Fourteen days after the end of the admission period, the school must, on the waiting lists, indicate the successful and the unsuccessful learners and furnish such to the District Director. The District Director must approve the list, and once done the school will notify all successful applicants of their placement and inform successful applicants that they must confirm acceptance of placement within 7 days. The school must also, in writing, inform all unsuccessful applicants of the outcome, the reasons for such and of their right to object and appeal in terms of Regulation 16. All late applications will be recorded as such, placed on either waiting list A or B, and forwarded to the District Director for placement.

Applications for Grades 2-7 and 9-12 – In-Between Learners
Parents who wish to apply to transfer a learner cannot apply online. The school must be approached and consulted with to verify availability of spaces. An application form must be completed and returned with the necessary documentation. Spaces will be confirmed pending the current learner enrolment, learner retention in each grade and in line with the capacity of the school.[2] If the school is not declared full the District Director, if satisfied good cause is shown, may admit a learner at any time to a particular school. The District Director has regard to three factors namely: (1) the reasons for leaving the school currently enrolled at; (2) whether the learner would have qualified for waiting list A or B; and (3) the capacity of the school being applied to relative to (i) the capacity of any other schools where the learner would have qualified for waiting list A if the learner had been applying as an entry phase learner and (ii) to other schools in the district.


Primary school learners
An applicant will be placed on waiting list A in one of three instances: 1) place of residence is within the feeder zone; 2) at least one parent’s place of employment is within the feeder zone; or 3) their sibling attends the school.

An applicant who is not placed on waiting list A will be placed on waiting list B and must be advised that they should seek admission at a school where they will qualify under waiting list A. 

High school learners
An applicant will be placed on waiting list A and B under the same circumstances as primary school learners. However, it is not required that applicants placed on waiting list B be advised to seek admission to another school.

Applicable to all learners
The default feeder zones, in force until such time as the MEC determines new feeder zones, are determined on the basis of the place of residence or work of the parent being within a 5km radius of the school.[4]

The school enters all applicants onto the respective waiting lists in the order in which the learners’ applications were received. Available spaces are filled first from waiting list A in the order entered on the list, and then if applicable, from waiting list B in the ordered entered on the list.

If a ‘learner is refused admission to a school’, at the end of the application period, the principal must inform the parents in writing of his or her right to object and appeal the decision in terms of Regulation 16.

This sounds simple enough but Regulation 16 is somewhat perplexing. Sub-regulation (1) refers to ‘learner’ with no other reference. Learner is not defined in the Regulations however, it is defined in both the national and provincial Schools Acts as ‘any person receiving education or obliged to receive education in terms of this Act’. The duty of the principal to inform the parents of their rights is therefore applicable to both entry phase and to transferring learners.

So far so good, but then sub-regulation (2) provides that a parent who is dissatisfied with a decision taken in terms of regulation 5(7)(c)(iii) may lodge an objection with the HOD. Regulation 5 refers specifically to entry-phase learners, which raises the question of whether this objection procedure is available to transferring learners who are dissatisfied with a decision. From there sub-regulation (4) follows on by providing that a parent who is dissatisfied with the decision of the Head of the Department of Education may lodge an appeal with the Member of the Executive Committee for education, so the same query applies. The MEC must take a decision on the appeal within 15 school days and provide the parent with reasons for any decision not to uphold the appeal.

In both the objection and appeal process parents are required to provide reasons why they believe the decision taken was irregular. This reveals that parents cannot simply object to a decision taken because the decision was not to their liking and they felt aggrieved by it. There would have to be something more irregular with the decision. Unfortunately, our public schools, especially former Model C schools, are in high demand and there is limited number of spaces available. A transferring student will face great difficulty in getting admitted into the school of his or her choice, and unless there was some irregularity in the procedure, an objection to being refused admission when a school is officially declared full, may have no chance of success on appeal.

Aspects of the Regulations have been challenged in Court.  The matter went up to the Constitutional Court which confirmed them as valid in May 2016.  The issues at stake will be discussed in the second brief.


[1] 2012, GN 1160 Provincial Gazette 127, 9 May 2012.

[2] Gauteng Province Education Department Media Statement, Gauteng starts admissions early to ensure its all systems go in January 2017 – MEC Panyaza Lesufi Statement on Learner Admissions, 5 April 2016,10 April 2016.

[3] Regulation 7.

[4] Regulation 4.

[5] Regulation 16.