Parents pay big bucks for private education in the face of a failing education system

Last week, Curro announced a 15% increase in revenue for the first half of the year, ending in June 2022. This is due to the increase in the number of learners on its 77 campuses.

These results are more indicative of the tendency of parents in recent years to opt for private and semi-private school offerings, believing that the South African public school system is irredeemable.

A few years ago, a study by Nelda Mouton, associate professor at the North West University Business School, noted that in analyzing the school system in South Africa, it became clear that the education system was flawed, with teachers poor performers, poor work ethic, lack of community and parental support, weak oversight by educational authorities, weak teacher support and low level of accountability.

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Years later, these conditions proliferated through the squandering of funds at higher levels, as well as the adverse conditions caused by Covid-19. As a result, society now sees parents choosing to dilute their lifestyle, cutting various other expenses, in order to afford an exorbitant private school education.

A parent said it was out of the question for her to consider sending her child to a public school.

“We would rather live each day eating simple meals and spending our grocery money on school fees than sending my daughter to a public school in South Africa. Lack of discipline, brutal violence in schools and low moral values ​​among students – where teachers simply can’t do anything about it – give us nightmares to think about. I will not throw my little girl to the wolves,” she said.

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Even Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga acknowledged the challenges facing schools.

In her address to the SADTU Free State Principals’ Forum in July this year, she said: “I shudder to imagine what it means to be a principal in 2022, amidst the learning losses of the past two years occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic. .

“Despite the adverse environment in which mainstream public school principals operate, I urge all of you to focus on the core, not the peripherals.”

So what is the Ministry of Basic Education doing about it?

Despite Minister Motshekga’s efforts to get the public education sector back on track, parents still argue that these efforts are minimal – given that it was 2022 and a number of schools were still in trouble. struggling with inadequate infrastructure and basic sanitation.

In a press release, the Department of Basic Education revealed that it had completed 1,040 school sanitation projects across the country, with another 13 expected to be completed by 2023. But, Motshekga also had stated in recent reports that the money was needed to build good infrastructure needed to solve the problem of overcrowding in schools was still not available.

What options do parents have regarding the education of their children?

For the most part, parents say they feel like their hands are tied and only one option is available to them: private school. However, this comes at a price. A very high price. Tuition fees for learners between Years 1 and 7 range from around R96,000 to R115,000 per year.

For parents who cannot even think of paying such fees, they are trying, together with teachers, to adopt proactive approaches to improve conditions in their children’s schools. A teacher from eMbalenhle, Phindile Sibande from Ikusasalethu Secondary School, has raised funds to buy 130 chairs for students at his school so they don’t have to sit on the floor in the classroom. class.

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In Tshwane, parents protested and closed Sediba Sa Thuto Primary School, citing overcrowding. The parents demanded that prefabricated structures be sent to help solve the problem. Their demands were finally heard by the Ministry of Education.

For now, parents have little hope that the issue of the failing education system will be taken care of by the state. But the private sector is doing more to play its part.

Recently, Anglo American launched an education programme, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education, to improve learner outcomes at 100 early childhood development sites and 100 primary and secondary schools close to its mining operations in the country. It is hoped that more companies like mining giants will pick up the slack and help upgrade the country’s education system.

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