This report focuses on South Africa’s primary and secondary education sectors, factors influencing their success and the opportunities for growth in the private education sector. The report also profiles the Department of Education as well as seven of the major independent educational groups, including the sector leaders Curro Holdings Ltd, which currently has 42 registered schools and AdvTech Ltd which spent R2bn acquiring and expanding schools in 2014.
Primary and Secondary Education
In 2013/2014 the South African government spent R227bn on education, equivalent to 6.5% of GDP and 19.7% of total government expenditure. Despite the government allocating R19.68bn for 2014/15 to the Department of Basic Education (DBE) compared to R17.592bn for 2013/14, the Primary and Secondary education system remains in crisis.
The educational system is beset by numerous challenges, including the inadequate content knowledge of many teachers and poor English, Science and Mathematics results. Results from international, standardised tests show that between 75% and 80% of South African schools are not able to impart the necessary skills to students. This is reflected in the results from the 2014 Annual National Assessments (ANA) in 2014 where the average mark for Mathematics in Grade 9 was 10.8%. The high drop-out rate is also reason for concern with approximately 50% of learners exiting the system between Grades 10 and 12. Although the annual pass rate in Grade 12 or Matric has improved, analysis of the statistics focusing on the ‘cohort’ pass rate shows that the 78.2% pass rate of 2013 is closer to a 40% pass rate and 2014’s 75.8% is closer to 36.4%. The crisis in the country’s public education system means that independent schools, including traditional high-fee private schools as well as low-and mid-fee schools are thriving, with learner enrolment having increased 40% over the last five years.