SA Public vs Private School Prices in 2018 and Beyond

According to an April 2018 report by the Sunday Times, South Africa’s top private schools have lost thousands of students over the last year due to rising school fees and other costs.

Two of South Africa’s biggest private school chains, Curro and AdvTech, lost 3,881 pupils last year – mainly because parents could not afford to pay fees.

In addition, St John’s College in Parktown and St Stithians College in Sandton have confirmed that they had seen a number of drop-outs as well as an increase in students who had fallen behind in school fees.

Worse still, Old Mutual found that the cost of education is expected to increase by about 9% per year.

This means that within five years, you could be facing school fees of around R130,000 per annum for a private school, and over R50,000 for a public school.

Similar increases can be expected across the education sector Old Mutual said, with the expected cost of one year of university rising from R58,860 in 2018 to R254,725 by 2035.

Private options

While many parents can simply no longer afford to send their children to private schools, there are still a number of schools that are actually cheaper than many public offerings – especially at the primary school level.

Factoring in Old Mutual’s expected cost of R34,613 for a year of schooling at a public primary or high school, BusinessTech looked at the biggest players in the market, and how their fees compare.


SPARK’s primary schools offer facilities for students from Grade R – Grade 7.

Each curriculum used encompasses the requirements of the CAPS curriculum, however there special focus is given to dynamic and individualised teaching, which ensures that scholars are learning the curriculum in new ways that are interesting for them.

According to the school’s website, two payment options are available for the 2019 school year – an annual tuition cost of R23,100 per year, or a monthly tuition cost of R2,310 over 10 months.

In addition, the school will provide all necessary stationery for students upon receipt of an annual stationery fee and parents are not responsible for purchasing textbooks or replenishing school stationery (a R500 once off cost).

Pembury Lifestyle Group (

Pembury’s Lifestyle Group and its school’s have grown aggressively since its official listing on the AltX board in March 2017.

It currently boasts more than ten schools across Gauteng, the North West and Limpopo, with facilities for students from Grade R through to matric.

Each school offers vastly different fees, with the PLG Willow View Academy charging R26,400 to R36,300 between Grade R and Grade 7. While you can expect to pay between R46,200 and R51,700 between Grade 8 and matric.

In contrast you can expect to pay significantly more at PLG’s Northriding Academy which charges R32,450 to R42,350 Grade R and Grade 7, and R52,800 between Grades 8-10.

Curro (

Arguably no other South African private school group has seen as much growth as Curro over the last few years.

The group develops, acquires and manages independent schools for learners from the age of three months to Grade 12.

The different school models are Curro Castles (nursery schools), Curro, Curro Academy, Meridian and Select schools – with construction on five new campuses across the country planned for 2018 and beyond.

Despite this, the school was named directly by the Sunday Times due to the number of drop-outs it has seen due to rising schools fees.

As with the other options on this list, the fees differ depending on the school – however they are no longer directly accessible on the Curro website and you are required to contact the school directly for more information.

However a recent Business Insider report notes that the average school fee per pupil was R41,600 in 2017 – with increases of up to 12.2% in 2018.

Advtech (

AdvTech was also named by the Sunday Times as one of the groups which saw some of the biggest drop-outs due to rising school fees.

Owner of the Crawford college and Trinity House schools, the group offers options for Grade through to matric, at a number of schools across the country.

While each school offers its own pricing structures, many were notably more expensive than other options on this list, with pricing starting at R54,670 for Grade R at Crawford Pretoria, rising to R118,280 in matric.

Similarly you can expect to pay R68,030 to R132,830 between Grade R and matric at Crawford’s Sandton College.

Trinityhouse’s fees are slightly less expensive, charging between R56,900 and R99,300 for Grade R through to Grade 12.

New SA Schooling Option Piloted

The Portfolio Committee on Basic Education has commended the Department of Basic Education (DBE) for implementing the three-stream model in the South African curriculum. The model, which was piloted across 58 schools in 2017, features three streams of education – academic, technical vocational and technical occupational.

As explained by the Helen Suzman Foundation’s Charles Simkins, up to now, basic education has only featured two streams – the academic/technical pathways.

However, both streams are built on a common school programme of general education up to the end of Grade 9, after which learners can either stay in schools or transfer to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

The third stream being introduced by the department is a technical occupational stream which will instead offer skills and vocational programmes and is aimed at producing students who can leave matric and immediately enter the workplace – with skills like spray painting, woodwork, and hairdressing.

This includes the introduction of subjects such as technical mathematics, technical science and entrepreneurship with the goal of producing 30,0000 artisans by 2030.


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Sources: BusinessTech [1], [2]. Image sources: kazuend via Unsplash [1], [2].