Eastern Cape Education
Registration of Independent Schools

What are Independent Schools?

Independent schools are private schools that are registered with the Department of Education for offering basic education programmes in terms of the South African Schools Act (SASA), 1996; Eastern Cape Schools Act, 1999 (ACT No 1 of 1999: Provincial Gazette No 766, 2001) regulating independent schools as well as the National Norms and Standards for School Funding, 2003 as amended, (this includes Government Gazette No 29179, 2006).

The Independent schools have their right of establishment enshrined in the Constitution of the republic of South Africa, , Section 29(3) which states that:


Everyone has a right to establish and maintain at their own expense, independent educational institutions that:

  • Do not discriminate  directly or indirectly on the basis of race;
  • Are registered with the state;
  • Maintain standards that are not inferior to standards at comparable public educational institutions

How is an independent school different from a public school?


These schools have certain features or rights which makes them different from public schools; both in the way they are legally sanctioned and the way they operate. These include the following:


  • They follow their own distinctive missions ( including particular ethos, faith or philosophy values); 

What does registration as an independent school mean?


  • The Department of Education has the responsibility to evaluate schools for registration. It is only the Department of Education that can grant a school registration.
  • Registration means the granting of legal authority to offer basic education.
  • Registration thus enables an independent school to operate within the law.
  • Before a school is registered, it must be assessed whether it has resources, capacity and expertise to offer acceptable standard of education.
  • A registered school must maintain its registration by continuing to comply with the requirements of the Act and the Regulations. 
  • Any violation of the Act and Regulations will result in deregistered. 

What does a department look for when it considers an application for registration from an independent school?


  • Quality
  • Financial stability
  • Legal operation
  • Health and safety
  • Qualifications

    Important information to remember


  • On registration, an independent school is issues with a letter and or certificate of registration by the Department of Education
  • The certificate  / letter  must be visibly displayed on the school’s premises / principal’s office
  • The school’s registration number / EMIS number, the phases / grades for which the institution is registered and approved site of delivery / physical address appear on the certificate
  • Before enrolling and whenever in doubt, contact the Department to check if the school is registered with the Department
  • Some schools have been registered for a specific period of time. Such schools are issued provisional registration certificates. Find out if the school is one of these.
  • Study and understand the enrolment contract carefully before signing it.

Contact details for enquiries about the registration status of independent schools: 


  1. Contact the provincial Department of Education in the province  

Directorate: Scholar Transport and Independent Schooling

Department of Education

Private Bag X0032




Telephone: (040) 6084359 / 4026

Fax: (040) 6084756


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Postal Address
The Eastern Cape Department of Education
Private Bag X0032
Bhisho, Eastern Cape, RSA, 5605

Physical Address
Steve Vukile Tshwete Education Complex
Zone 6, Zwelitsha
Province of the Eastern Cape, RSA

Where is Zwelitsha?