Lack of birth certificates put children at risk of school exclusion

26 Sep 2019 - 15:45

Children who don’t have birth certificates are at risk of being excluded from school if the Department of Basic Education does not provide school funding for those without a valid ID number. There is emerging evidence that this is already happening in the Eastern Cape.


The Children’s Institute estimates that around half a million children in South Africa do not have birth certificates, and therefore do not have an ID number. These children are the poorest and most vulnerable, including those whose mothers have died or do not have ID documents. They are also at risk of exclusion from access to other benefits and services that are constitutional entitlements, including social grants, nutritional support and health services.


The “Phakamisa Case” (Centre for Child Law & others v Minister for Basic Education & others) proceeds in the Eastern Cape High Court on 18 and 19 September. Applicants include the School Governing Body of Phakamisa High School and 37 children. The Minister of Home Affairs has been joined as a respondent. The Children’s Institute has lodged an expert affidavit, and the South African Human Rights Commission and Section 27 have entered as amici.