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Private or government education: which is right for you?

Friday, January 15, 2016

With the recent #feesmustfall protests, education in South Africa has been in the spotlight even more than usual. But for parents, education is always on their minds, even from before their children are born.

Much of the concern and debate around schooling in SA revolves around whether parents should send their children to government or private schools. Of course, many don’t have a choice in this, but encouragingly, this is changing[1]

Thankfully, not all decisions are as tough as deciding where your child’s educational future lies. With us, we make it easy to get car, home, buildings and life insurance quotes, and you can do it all online, which leaves you with the time you need to think about the important things.

But we thought we’d give you a little extra help in making such a big decision, so we’re looking at the pros and cons of government and private schooling so that you can decide which is best for you and your child.

Public education

Pros

• The most obvious positive of public schools is that they are generally more affordable than private institutions. Depending on a number of factors, such as what area the school is located in and whether it’s a primary or high school, you could pay as little as R5000[2] per child per year, and up to around R30, 000 per year[3].

• Many government schools have been around for years and as such, have fully-fledged sporting and other extra-curricular facilities. If your kids are into sports or other hobbies, their best bet may very well be a public school.[4]

• Most public schools have feeder zones. This means they give priority of admission to children whose parents live or work in close proximity to the school, so your children will likely be attending school with their neighbours and close community. This also allows them to be exposed to a diverse range of cultures with their peers.[5]

Cons

• Many parents’ first concern with public schools is around the quality of education. While this is certainly a problem in many rural areas, it’s important to note that there are a number of government schools that consistently perform well. [6]

• Government schools often have classroom overcrowding problems, sometimes as much as 1 teacher per every 50 learners, which means that individual attention is not always possible for children that are struggling.[7]

• Discipline is not always as good as many parents (and teachers) would like, likely because of classroom overcrowding, and because as it can be difficult for schools to take action against disruptive learners.[8]

Private Schools

Pros

• Generally speaking, private schools have smaller classrooms, so if your children need a little extra help and attention, they’ll get it.[9]

• Many consider these institutions to have better discipline because it’s much easier for them to take action against those that behave badly.[10]

• The quality of education is superior to many public schools.[11]

Cons

• They are more expensive; a few notable private boarding schools charge over R200, 000 per annum per child.[12]

• Smaller private schools may not have the established extra-curricular history that many government schools have, so choice in sporting and other activities might be limited.[13]

• Typically, the academic curriculum is quite traditional, so children may be exposed to fewer subjects and therefore have fewer opportunities to discover passions and talents outside of the standard school subjects.[14]


From the size of classrooms, to sporting opportunities, to academic achievements, to learning about social diversity, making the choice of where to send your children to school is a complex decision not to be taken lightly.

Long-term insurance policies are underwritten by 1Life Insurance Ltd an authorised financial services provider (FSP licence number: 24769).