Key Points:

  • Affordable private schools offer an alternative schooling option in poorer communities. They should be welcomed in South Africa, as they have been in many other developing countries.
  • Between 2000 and 2010, the number of independent schools rose by 44% and served an additional 118 295 learners. During the same period, the number of public schools fell by 9%.
  • The optimal size of a private school sector is heavily debated, but there is evidence from countries around the world to suggest that a strong, vibrant private sector can improve overall educational outcomes.
  • Although there are still few affordable private schools in South Africa, there is great scope for growth in the low-fee private schooling sector, as long as the state properly facilitates its expansion.
  • Since 2010, South Africa has seen significant growth in the independent schooling sector with new players emerging and the formation or expansion of new low-fee school chains. These chains are using innovative approaches to education, including centralised administration, greater focus on blended learning, enhanced safety on school grounds, and an emphasis on strong leadership and quality of instruction.
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