Who let the kids out?
At some schools learners were allowed out of school before the official end of term. Were yours among them?
School holidays officially started this week, but at some schools during the last few weeks, learners have been free to come and go at odd hours. The Education Law Project at CALS is receiving queries from parents whose children are being allowed to leave the school premises after finishing their exams, but before the schools have officially closed. It seems some educators are allowing children, in both primary and secondary schools, to leave the school premises early and unsupervised and parents are unsure of whether this is correct.

The problem is two-fold. Children are being told to go home directly after exams are completed in the mid-morning, Often parents themselves are allowing their children to stay home once their exams are over but before the official end of the term. Communication between schools and parents does not always seem clear.

Doing time?

Children may think that the last days of school are the same as going to prison, but the reality is that Section 3 of the South African Schools Act (84 of 1996) states that "every parent must cause every learner for whom he or she is responsible to attend a school from the first school day of the year until the last school day" during the compulsory school ages.

Indeed a parent or anybody else who prevents a learner from attending school "is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months."

Kids on the loose
The Education Law Project warns that children are at huge risk to child abuse, road accidents, and other risky behaviour as they are being left without parent and teacher supervision. Many parents are still working and will only take leave and employ child-minders during the holidays. For those who have employed child-minders already the additional cost is substantial.

Some parents are asking whether they can get a discount on their school fees, because some educators are allowing children to leave the school early. These educators are not fulfilling their designated role of in loco parentis and if a child should disappear or be harmed in any way it will be the responsibility of the school and the Department of Education. Obviously this affects the poorest portion of the learners most severely as their parents are unable to afford au pairs, nannies etc and this places the most marginalised children, especially girls, at the most risk.
Have your children been let out early? Send the name of the school and your province to phillipa.tucker@wits.ac.za at the Education Law Project.

Do you think kids should be allowed home after exams? Who should make the decision? Comment in the box below.


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