It costs over R400,000 a year to attend South Africa’s most expensive school

Located in Honeydew, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa’s most expensive school isn’t a school in the traditional sense – but sees itself as a launchpad for Africa’s future leaders.

The African Leadership Academy (ALA) is unlike other South African schools in that it does not offer a National Senior Certificate or IEB equivalent, instead focusing on training youths to realise their leadership potential.

It’s a two-year pre-university programme offered to 16-19 year olds, that focuses on unique curriculum for candidates who show strong academic performance, leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit and a “passion” and commitment to Africa.

Students who make it through the strict admissions process will study the core offering of English, Mathematics, Entrepreneurial Leadership, African Studies and Writing and Rhetoric, along with a combination of Cambridge-administered IGCSE, AS or A2 electives that can include courses from the Natural Sciences, the Humanities and Languages and Commerce.

Because prospective candidates have to be between the ages of 16 and 19, the entry requirements are strict, and strong academic performance in all subjects at the schools attended before applying for the ALA is a prerequisite.

For academic certification, the group examines students with the Cambridge International Examinations – or A-levels as they are known in the UK.

The academy, which started in 2004, only takes 120 students after screening thousands of prospectives.

It also points out that it does not discriminate on the basis of gender (identity or expression), race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity (or tribal affiliation), wealth or income when selecting successful candidates.

The cost

The school has a fixed, all-inclusive fee, set at $30,900 per year. At current rates, that translates to about R411,400 – slightly lower than the cost in 2017, due to a more favourable exchange rate.

Even though ALA’s prices have not changed since 2017, it still remains the most expensive schooling option, when compared to the likes of Hilton College and MichaelHouse in the KZN midlands.

ALA is approximately 50% more expensive than Hilton, which often carries the title of the most expensive ‘traditional’ school in the country – however this gap is narrowing, as private schools in South Africa experience fee increases as high as 10%, while the ALA has kept its fees stable.

The table below outlines how ALA’s annual costs compare to the most expensive schools in South Africa.

Most expensive schools in SA

School 2018 2017
African Leadership Academy R411 400 R411 730
Hilton R276 560 R253 660
MichaelHouse R265 680 R240 000
 St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown R252 990 R235 335
 Roedean School for Girls R252 341 R236 795
 Kearnsney College R242 220 R225 940
 Bishops, Rondebosch R240 380 R219 510
 St Mary’s, Waverley R234 540 R215 200
 St Andrew’s School for Girls, Senderwood R233 810 R219 450
 St Stithians R232 640 R229 010
 St Martin’s R232 120 R217 330
 St Alban’s College R229 410 R212 600
 St John’s College R227 815 R226 965
 Kingswood College R221 370 R203 400
 Diocesan School for Girls, Grahamstown R219 420 R203 190
 St Mary’s DSG, Pretoria R209 675 R194 940
 Somerset College R208 515 R196 712
 St Cyprian’s R204 000 R191 550
 The Wykeham Collegiate R196 600 R182 140
 Treverton College R191 840
 Herschel Girls’ School R190 150 R180 040

Read: Top private and public schools in South Africa: cost vs performance

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