The teacher to pupil ratio of South Africa’s largest private schools operator

South Africa’s largest private schools operator, Curro Holdings, has approximately one teacher for every 15 pupils across its network of 110 schools.

By comparison, government schools in South Africa have a ratio exceeding 30 pupils for every teacher.

More parents are seeking better education alternatives for their children as the country’s basic education system ranks amongst the worst in the world.

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.

The national pass rate at state schools declined to 70.7% in 2015.

Curro aims to improve the standard of education in South Africa. Its schools use the IEB curriculum, and in 2015, 724 students wrote the IEB matric exams, with 99% passing, and 82% gaining university entry.

Read: Education in SA today ‘is no better than the Bantu system’: Maimane

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

Curro, however, has ambitious plans to expand and improve on that ratio. It said in a statement on Tuesday that it remains on track to achieve its vision of 80 campuses and 200 schools by 2020.

The company will spend about R950 million building nine new schools, and will invest a further R500 million in expanding existing campuses across the country.

Curro said it currently operates at 78% of existing building capacity and at 51% of eventual capacity.

The 2016 investment programme includes:

  • Curro Waterfall Primary;
  • Curro Century City High School;
  • Curro Krugersdorp High School;
  • Curro Rivonia;
  • Curro Academy Wilgeheuwel;
  • Curro Academy Clayville;
  • Curro Academy Pretoria;
  • and a campus for Embury Institute for Teacher Education in Waterfall Estate.
2013 2014 2015 2016
Campuses 26 32 42 47
Schools 72 80 101 110
Learners 21 027 28 737 35 970 41 393
Average per campus 809 898 857 887
Employees 2 387 3 128 3 969 4 606
Teachers 1 593 1 905 2 339 2 752
Learner/teacher ratio 13 15 15 15

Curro CEO Dr Chris van der Merwe noted at the start of 2016 that 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.”

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The teacher to pupil ratio of South Africa’s largest private schools operator