December 18 2013 at 12:06pm
By Leanne Jansen
Moloi said that whether parents sent their children to lower-priced or high-end private schools, it suggested some dissatisfaction with the state system. Picture: shelbyasteward, flickr.com
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Durban – The number of children enrolled at private schools in KwaZulu-Natal continues to swell, according to statistics released by the Basic Education Department.
Compared with last year, private schools have grown from 65 100 pupils to nearly 67 000, while the intake at KZN’s state schools remained relatively unchanged.
The department’s annual School Realities publication has also shown that the number of teachers employed by private schools is up – from nearly 4 700 last year, to nearly 4 800 this year.
School Realities contains a range of statistics from classroom sizes to the number of pupils in each grade in each province.
Separate figures from the South African Institute of Race Relations, released earlier this year, show that the number of children attending private schools in KZN rose 49.9 percent from 2000 to 2011 – an increase attributed to the emergence of low-fee private education.
Despite the growth in the number of private school pupils, nearly 2.8 million children attended state schools in KZN this year.
While KZN is home to more school-going children than any other province, Gauteng had the largest number of private school pupils this year (nearly 230 000).
The Mercury has previously reported that, according to the Independent Schools’ Association of Southern Africa, the fastest enrolment growth in private schools was from black families ranging from the elite to the working class.
The Governing Body Foundation, a national association of state school governing bodies to which some of Durban’s top schools belong, has previously pointed out that the demand for places at excelling schools far exceeds the number of places available.
When parents were turned away from top state schools (of which there were a finite number), rather than opting for a lesser state school, they enrolled their children at private schools.
Lerato Moloi, the head of research at the Race Relations Institute, said that because South Africa had far fewer private schools than state schools, when referring to the growth rates in the private schooling sector, coming off a lower base meant that there was room for higher growth rates.
Moloi said that whether parents sent their children to lower-priced or high-end private schools, it suggested some dissatisfaction with the state system.
Gillian Godsell from the University of the Witwatersrand said the ideal would be for the number of excellent state schools in the country to be increased.
However, there were barriers to this happening, including the size of the government subsidy to these schools. – The Mercury