Curro talks up growth in ‘more affordable alternative’ – its online school

Private education group Curro has reported a swing back into profit for the year ended December 2021, as its schools return to normal operations and continue to weather the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The group reported a 15% increase in revenue to R3.543 billion for the year, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) was up by the same margin to R789 million. The EBITDA margin was maintained at around 22%.

Profits after taxation were at R251 million, up from a loss of R43 million in 2021. Headline earnings increased to R245 million from R171 million before, with headline earnings per share at 40.9 cents.

The group declared a dividend of 8.2 cents per share, after nixing dividends the year prior.

Curro reported a 9% growth in learner numbers for the 2021 financial year. At the end of December 2021, the group had 66,447 learners, up from 60,777 the year before. This trend continued into 2022. Tuition fees increased by 11.8% due to the growth in learners coupled with the tuition fee mix and inflationary increases.

“At 18 February 2022, Curro had 70,408 new learners enrolled for the 2022 academic year which is an increase of 6% on a like-for-like basis from 2021,” said Andries Greyling, chief executive officer of Curro Holdings.

“This excludes the acquisition of HeronBridge College with an additional 1,169 learners. We are encouraged by the level of new enrolments for the 2022 academic year, which has commenced with much enthusiasm,” he said.

As at 18 February 2022, the group has 178 schools across the country and 76 campuses, averaging 926 learners per campus. It employs 3,579 teachers.

The company also talked up its new digital offering, Curro Online, which has passed 600 learners enrolled.

Curro Online is part of the education group’s EduTech platform, which provides remote teaching and learning to children in grades 4 to 11. It provides the platform as a more affordable alternative to traditional schooling.

The online programme is punted as an alternative to mainstream schooling: highquality curriculum, homebased with teacher touchpoints throughout the day, designed for the parent who has limited time to supervise homeschooling.

“Curro’s DigiEd Schools offer academic excellence at exceptionally low cost to learners through innovative digital tuition processes. The wider subject offering (Curro Choice) empowers high school learners to take any subject they are interested in, regardless of their school’s physical offering,” it said.

School fees for the group’s online offering range between R3,920 – R4,500 per month, while its traditional offering ranges between R5,590 and R9,850 depending on the grade.

Investments in 2022

Curro said it invested R929 million in the business in 2021, which included the construction of Curro Durbanville’s state-of-the-art new High School campus at Phesantekraal in Cape Town. The new Curro flagship campus opened in January 2022, where it said enrolments exceeded expectations.

For 2022, the group said it is committed to “making a positive contribution to its communities” and plans to invest up to R1.1 billion in the business for the year.

The acquisition of HeronBridge College is anticipated to be completed in March 2022 once the property transfer is registered.

“The company’s business model is resilient, underpinned by its robust offering, buoyant learner growth as a result of increasing demand for affordable high-quality education and strong financial position.

“Whilst the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and its associated impact on the economy and our business remain unpredictable, we hope that our learners will experience a more stable academic year where they can again participate in a wide range of extramural activities which complement our exceptional academic offering,” it said.


Read: A look at Curro’s new ‘mega’ high school campus in Cape Town

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Curro talks up growth in ‘more affordable alternative’ – its online school