Key Points:

  • The private education sector has grown virtually across the board in developed and developing countries. Internationally, governments are making greater use of private participation in education to assist in meeting their education policy objectives.
  • As part of an overall reform strategy for South Africa’s ailing education system, the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) has become increasingly interested in the potential of low-fee independent schools to provide quality education to disadvantaged learners.
  • In its latest research publication, the CDE explores the cost facing these schools of complying with regulatory requirements.
  • A key trend has been the emergence of different forms of private involvement in education through public-private partnerships (PPPs).
  • One reason for this expansion is the inability of public school provision to keep pace with the growing demand for education.
  • In South Africa, the private, officially known as the independent, school sector is characterised by a diversity of not-for-profit and for-profit providers charging a very wide range of fees. Both registered and unregistered (illegal) schools exist. By international comparison, the independent school sector in South Africa is small2 and the low-fee segment of schools is especially so, although it is growing rapidly.
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