Original Research

Factors affecting parents’ choice of schools for Grade 1 learners

Roy Venketsamy, Denise Miller
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 11, No 1 | a913 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v11i1.913 | © 2021 Roy Venketsamy, Denise Miller | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 13 July 2020 | Published: 18 June 2021

About the author(s)

Roy Venketsamy, Department of Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Denise Miller, Department of Early Childhood Education, Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


Background: Parents are challenged to choose schools for their Grade 1 learners. They believe that the Department of Education’s zoning and admission policy is too restrictive. Schools also do not provide adequate information to allow parents to make their choice.

Aim: This article aimed to identify factors that influence parents’ choice of schools for their Grade 1 learners.

Setting: This study was conducted in Gauteng province. The identified environment and location provided rich data solicited from the participants on how they chose the schools.

Methods: This was a qualitative case study using individual and focus group interviews, with 10 parents (5 mothers and 5 fathers) of children enrolled in an ex-model C school. The parents’ choice of school was examined through the seminal work of Hirschman’s ‘Exit, Voice and Loyalty’ theoretical framework, which applied the three different elements to understand and identify the phenomenon of school choice in South Africa.

Results: The data gathered indicated that parents made choices considering the following factors: proximity; cost; curriculum; technology and relationships.

Conclusion: Since parents disagreed with the department’s policy on admission, the Minister of the Gauteng Department of Education stated that the new school feeder zone regulation would ensure fair access to schools for all learners. This means that learners will not be discriminated against where they live. During the admission application process, the amended regulations are intended to assist learners to access schools in compliance with certain criteria. Parents are encouraged to select a minimum of three schools to enrol their children.


Grade 1; school choice; curriculum; language; safety


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