This paper argues that the problems of educational access for non-nationals in South Africa lie not simply in failures of the current policies, although there are certainly instances where policies need modification, but largely in the implementation of existing policies, and the ways in which they are developed and modified. The paper reviews evidence in the international literature and draws on empirical evidence from a small study of a group of Zimbabwean migrant children to illustrate more clearly the dynamics that serve to exclude them from access to schooling, despite official policy commitments. Key research questions that are addressed are what main barriers to educational access exist for non- national and are these a result of policy gaps; how does the implementation of existing educational policies affect the educational access of non-nationals; what approaches to policy and practice would be more effective in ensuring non-nationals participate fully in basic education? The paper ends with some observations on how to address the policy gaps and how to develop a more effective approach to policy formation and implementation in order to improve both policy and practice.

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