Key Points:

  • Low-fee private schools are growing at a significant rate and are becoming a key feature of the South African education sector.
  • CDE estimates that low-fee private schools charging fees below R12,000 a year are educating a quarter of a million children in disadvantaged communities. Almost all learners in the low-fee private school sector are black.
  • Sir Michael Barber, the chief education advisor for Pearson, argues that one reason for the burgeoning, low-cost private school sector across the developing world is that parents leave the public school system because they are frustrated with the education their children get.
  • The fundamental reason education investment in South Africa is increasing but results are not, is the fact that most of the education investment (90% of the education budget) is going towards teachers’ salaries without there being a change in teacher behaviour.
  • The false dichotomy about public versus private provision is not helpful. What South Africa needs is to find the right combination of public and private schooling that ensures that growing numbers of children receive a good education as quickly as possible.