Private education group rakes in billions

Private education group, Curro has released its financials for the full year ended December 2015, showing astounding growth in revenue since 2010.

For full year 2015, the group reported total revenue of R1.38 billion for the year – up from R1 billion in 2014 – including both its Curro and Meridian branded schools.

Profit for the year was up 80% to R92 million, after R1.03 billion in operating expenses and other deductions.

Averaged among the student population, this equates to just under R38,500 per student, with profits at R2,550 per head.

For 2016, the group increased its number of students to 41,864, up 16% from 35,970 for 2015, and added five campuses, taking the total to 47.

The group operates 110 schools as of January 2016, with an average of 891 students per campus.

Curro also employs 2,637 teachers.

Curro CEO Dr Chris van der Merwe said that the company’s vision of 200 schools – 80 campuses – by 2020 remains on track.

The group’s school fees range from under R24,000 to over R90,000 a year – where 30% of students pay less than the former, Curro said. Some campuses, such as Curro Waterfall have annual fees as high as R93,600.

“Approximately 50% of our learners attend our schools where the average school fees range between R2,000 and R4,000 per month, with 30% in schools with average school fees of less than R2,000 per month.”

“The balance of learners attend schools where the average school fee is in excess of R4,000 per month.”

Compared to other private school institutions, these fees are quite affordable.

The schools use the IEB curriculum, and in 2015, 724 students wrote the IEB matric exams, with 99% passing, and 82% gaining university entry.

SA education crisis

South Africa’s education has a history of failure – particularly in mathematics and science.

Census data indicates that only an estimated 48% of students who begin Grade 1 actually complete Grade 12, with most learners dropping out of school in Grade 10 and 11 – while teachers and university professors claim that pass rates of 30% to 40% are just too low to be of any value, globally.

Private schools still make up less than 5% of all schools in South Africa, with just over 500,000 students enrolled in private schools out of a total learner population of 12.4 million.

Curro, along with another listed player in private education, AdvTech, have both made a successful business out of government’s apparent failure in public education, with the AdvTech increasing revenues by 31% and Curro boosting earnings by a whopping 1,715% since 2010.

Private education company revenues 2010 – 2015 (ZAR millions)

Company 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
AdvTech 1 470 1 605 1 687 1 766 1 931 TBA
Curro 76 170 366 659 1 001 1 384

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Private education group rakes in billions