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The South African Primary and Secondary Education Sector
For the 2018/19 financial year the allocation for Basic Education has been increased to R751.9bn, an increase of R1.1bn from the 2016/2017 financial year. However, despite years of investment into the sector with government spending on Basic Education reaching 15% of the total budget, South Africa’s public Primary and Secondary education sectors remain in crisis. The education sector is still struggling to overcome poor literacy levels, low Mathematics and Science results, a high drop-out rate and under-performing teachers.
The Growing Independent School Sector
The failure of public school education to overcome these challenges has continued to provide growth for the independent school sector, which has expanded rapidly throughout the country. This sector is represented by the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA), which serves 765 schools, with its member schools educating more than 168,000 pupils. An increasing number of independent schools are low-fee schools serving disadvantaged communities, including learners from informal settlements, inner cities and rural areas. Although there are a number of high-fee independent schools in the country, the majority are mid- and low-fee schools and approximately 25% of its member schools receive state subsidies.
The South African Primary and Secondary Education Sector report describes current conditions and focuses on academic standards and initiatives to improve these standards. The report profiles 11 independent school groups and includes information on the number of government schools, teachers and learners in the country. Profiles for new entrants into the sector are also provided. These include Pembury Lifestyle Group (PLG), which in November 2016 listed its PLG Schools on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange’s Alternative Exchange, and Future Nation Schools (Pty) Ltd, which follows a project-based learning approach which tries to encourage learners to design, plan and execute extended projects by applying the theory they learn to solve real world problems.