The legal position of home education learners and tutors

Section 51 of the South African Schools Act (Act 84 of 1996) makes it clear that home education is a legally recognised alternative to education at registered public and/or private schools. According to the act, parents should apply to the head of the Provincial Department of Basic Education to register learners for home education. This only applies to Grade 1 to Grade 9 learners who fall between the ages of 7 and 15. Grade 10 to Grade 12 learners, or learners older than 15 years, are not required to register as home education learners with the Department of Basic Education.

After the commencement of the Schools Act, a policy regarding the registration of learners for home education was published on 23 November 1999. According to the Home Education Policy, home education is a form of education where a parent teaches his own child at home. In addition to teaching his/her child, a parent may also enrol the services of a “tutor” for specific areas of the curriculum.

The purpose of an Impak tutor is to provide such tutoring services (as well as other ancillary services) in specific areas of the curriculum, where necessary, to the parents of learners who are educated at home. Tutors who make use of Impak's products and services must ensure that they only provide tutoring and other ancillary services to parents who educate their children at home, and who have applied to the Provincial Department of Basic Education to register their children as home education learners, according to the Schools Act. Such tutors are not schools, unless they decide to register as an independent school. The responsibility for a learner’s education remains with the parents.

The definition in the Schools Act of a school is “a public school or an independent school which enrols learners in one or more grades between grade zero and grade twelve”.  At present, the Schools Act does not regulate independent service providers, such as Impak tutors, who only offer tutoring services. The Schools Act does, however, regulate private schools and there are extensive provisions, requirements and procedures to be followed by private schools.

Legal services and advice

Impak offers reasonable legal advice and assistance to our home education and tutor clients. In addition, we constantly liaise with the various authorities, including Umalusi and the Department of Basic Education, to create the environment and framework in which home and tutor education can take place. 

We are aware that tutors in some provinces are being pressured to register as independent schools. Such cases must be reported to Impak so that the matter can be taken up with the relevant provincial department.

If you require legal advice, contact us at