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Children normally enter the schooling system via creche or kindergarten; some creches will take babies at six weeks old while most kindergartens will only take children from at least one year old. Some kindergartens will insist that your child is potty-trained before they are admitted.

Children stay at kindergarten until they enter the formal schooling system when they are four or five.

The formal South African Schooling system is divided into grades. The grades begin at Grade 0 and continue until Grade 12. Children are between four and five when they enter Grade 0. Grade 1 to Grade 9 is compulsory in South Africa.

The schooling system is grouped in various ways;

Grades 0 to Grade 12 are divided into two schools; Primary school and High school:

Primary School Grade 0 to Grade 7 Secondary School Grade 8 to Grade 12
The compulsory grades are also grouped as follows:

Foundation Phase Grade 1 to Grade 3 Intermediate Phase Grade 4 to Grade 6 Senior Phase Grade 7 to Grade 9
Both public and private schooling is available in South Africa.

Public schools - these schools offer the National Senior Certificate (NSC) as their highest qualification. This is the highest school leaving certificate offered by government schools. The public schooling system faces many challenges but there are oustanding schools in this sector which have been able to consistently acheive good final year pass rates and where your child can attain a good NSC which will enable him to apply to a local or some foreign universities.

Private schools - these schools offer the Independent Examinations Board National Senior Certificate (IEB NSC) and are generally acknowledged to provide the best school education in South Africa. Private schools are far more expensive than public schools.

The "Kombiabitur", offered by Deutsche Schule Johannesburg, Deutsche Schule Pretoria and the Deutsche Schule Kapstadt is a combined NSC and Abitur. It is recognised by the German and South African education authorities and assessed by the Abitur authorities in Germany and by the Independent Examinations Board in South Africa. The qualification is recognised by both German and South African universities.

South African schools are different from the schooling in Germany in the following ways:

After Primary School, all children, regardless of marks and achievement all attend the same school.

Assessment of students is symobilsed using the numbers 1 to 7 as follows:

Level 7: 80 - 100% represents an Outstanding achievement
Level 6: 70 - 79% represents a Meritorious achievement
Level 5: 60 - 69% represents a Substantial achievement
Level 4: 50 - 59% represents a Moderate achievement
Level 3: 40 - 49% represents an Adequate achievement
Level 2: 30 - 39% represents a Elementary achievement
Level 1: 0 - 29% represents a Not achieved or Fail

The school year in South Africa is broken down into four time periods called “terms”. The terms are separated by holidays; the longest of which is the holiday over Christmas and the shortest is the holiday between the third and fourth term. Private and public schools have their holidays at different times of the year. Tests are generally written throughout the year with final exams being written at the end of the year, in the fourth term. Progression to the next school year is awarded according to exam results and project and test marks attained during the year.

Children are expected to participate in “extra-mural” activities, generally a sport or other pursuit offered at the school. Teams from different schools compete in sports events.

School uniforms are worn at both Primary and High school. Personal appearance amongst scholars is expected to conform to social norms.

The prefect system; this is designed to identify and nurture leadership in young adults. Prefects are generally chosen by the school and perhaps students from the higher grades. Normally, a girl and boy will then be further chosen from amongst these prefects and these then become the “head boy” and the “head girl”. Prefects and head prefects have slightly different uniforms to the rest of the school body and will be expected to represent the school at functions and events.

Additionally, scholars who have achieved exceptionally in the sport, art or academic arena may be awarded “colours” in recognition of his achievements. This award entitles the student to make specific additions to his school uniform which identify his achievement.

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