Over 200 children of refugees in Johannesburg, South Africa are still waiting to be placed in a
state school. The South African Refugees Act provides the right to asylum-seekers and refugees
to work. However, this Mozambique mother of four says she’s struggled to get her children
placed in a state school since 2002.
“It took time for my children to get admitted into state schools and when they did, they got
admitted late. I tried to find schools that were nearby and they were rejected because they do
not have a birth certificate. Also, next year it will continue to be a problem because the birth
certificates are needed.”, explains Sibongile Mahlangu, a migrant from Mozambique.
To keep the hundreds of some of the refugee children busy as they wait to access state
schooling, non Profit Organization, Three2Six based in Johannesburg provides an afternoon
bridging education programme. Mark Patterson, Director of he organization says there are a number of hurdles that bar children from admission.
“There are number of hurdles for registration. One is that they do not have the South African
documents. The other is big hurdle is the online system because people have to key in certain
information they don’t always have available. “
Randry Bigirimana, Burundian migrant now a qualified teacher in Johannesburg says the process of accessing the South African public school system was dehumanizing.
“Initially my mother wanted me to enroll me in a government school. She ended up looking for
schools but I got rejected after realizing that I did not have the right documents. So, I initially
stayed home. It took a pretty long time start learning as a young child.”
Even though organizations like Three2Six say they have over two hundred children of refugees
that are still waiting to be placed in a government school, the Department of Education
responded saying that no child should be on the waiting list.