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The Western Cape Education Department (WCED): Application And Requirements

Many firsts

As a day of many firsts, a seven year old will stand outside the gate of their new school, in a school uniform a size or two too large, with a toothless grin. They would ask dad why mommy is crying, but even dad seems to be a tad silent as the first teacher walks in.


It is painful letting a child go, especially at a young and tender age where they are still extremely dependent on you as a parent. The application for school should not make this massive transition any more difficult than it already is. You want to grow and expand your child’s mind—a task that is not always easy at home when their questions aren’t answered and you need a trained professional to educate them.

The (WCED) Western Cape Education department has the application and education for your child until grade 12 under control. The WCED is the department within South Africa responsible for the foundation education in the Western Cape. This department filters and executes the primary and secondary education system’s syllabus, deciding the quality of education every child and teenager will receive.

A touch of history

Education in South Africa used to be segregated in the apartheid era by race. Coloured and black students had unfortunately suffered under this era, receiving subpar education that did not allow them any further studies or office jobs, whereas Caucasians received premium, international quality qualifications by the end of their matric (final) year. The Western Cape (now) was part of the Cape Province and schools for white children were run by the Cape Provincial Administration. On the other hand, schools for coloured students were run by the House of Representative Education department and the black students’ schools were run by the Department of Education and Training.

On the 27th of April, 1994, with the change of power, the Interim Constitution of South Africa came into effect. The new government departed from dated systems, replacing even the old provinces with 9 brand new ones. The Western Cape Education Department inherited all schools that were previously located in the Western Cape, regardless of the race association. Schools were no longer associated by race—and the race became one. Proper, quality education for every student.

How do the WCED applications work?

School applications have completely changed since the application of primary school for any given young adult sitting behind a computer doing online classes or work today. In a traditional system, back in the day (5, 10, 40 years ago), you would have to go to the school itself to pick up an application and meet with the principle or management of the school. When you returned the signed and completed copy, you had to drive or post it back to the school—along with the registration fee and copies of required legal documents. Schools today have adopted a hybrid theory—some applications are online, some applications can still be dealt with physically. Nowadays, it’s a click of a button and you are administered. As many as 350 schools in the Western Cape have adapted to use online applications only, limiting face to face meetings completely unless it is essential.

What do I need?

To apply for Grade R, one and eight, the parents (and only the parents) of the student can acquire the necessary documentation and application forms from the Western Cape Education Department website. These documents can be sent in personally, saving time and trouble of using email or fax. Applications that are not completely filled in stand the chance of complete rejection, so extra precaution must be taken filling in the form.

The following copies need to accompany the application:

  •  Identification card, birth certificate or passport of the child.
  • Clinic card for proof of vaccination.
  • Payslip or letter of employment from a parent to prove residency and employment.
  • Identification card of a parent.
  • If the child were adopted, legal documents to show the proof of adoption.
  • If the child’s parent(s) were dead, a death certificate.
  • A study permit (international students).
  • For grade eight and grade one, the last report card.

When can I apply in 2021?

Unfortunately the applications for the 2021 school year has already closed in 2020, but applications for 2022 opened on the 26th of February. The process and information about the next academic year’s application can easily be found online on the WCED’s informative, interactive website.

The steps to apply are the easiest:

  1. Visit the Western Cape Education Department Website. (https://wcedonline.westerncape.gov.za/)
  2. Sign in or sign up with your identification number and password.
  3. You will find the application form once you are signed in.
  4. Fill in the application form.
  5. The website will supply you with a reference number you need to save.
  6. Once all the forms are filled in and the documents are attached, you can go to the school you have applied for and attach or fill in any other documents they specifically require.
  7. All documents, including the reference number, must be submitted to the school.
  8. Repeat procedures 1 to 7, because a single child must be applied to at least 3 schools to give them a higher probability of being accepted into any one of them.
  9. You will receive an email from each institution to notify that your application has been received.

The parent will receive an email to confirm if their child has been accepted or not.

One thing that this application method teaches a child, is that rejection is not supposed to hinder their career. Sometimes decisions are out of your hands, not because you did not try, but because not every person is fair. The important part is how to get up from rejection and that will determine the fire in your fight. Rejection should not stop you from desiring to flourish—it should encourage you to want success even more.