Public fee-free schools are subsidised by the government. These schools are only available in the poorest areas along with the National Schools Nutrition Programme (NSNP). The NSNP feeds 1.6 million children every day and established almost 2,000 school gardens.
Public private schools are subsidised by the government as well, but they charge school fees. These fees cover basic utensils like books and uniforms and extras depending on the class size, facilities, and teaching quality. In some cases, parents can apply for exemption or a reduction on fees.
Independent private schools have a long history and their concept is attracting a large number of students today. Independent private schools are either privately-governed or traditional private schools with a religious background that were established by missionaries.
For expatriate children, international schools - ones which follow the same curriculum as your home country or offer internationally recognised qualifications - are also a sensible choice.
Here is a selection of international schools in South Africa:
The American International School of Cape Town. This school teaches students from elementary school to high school and employs teachers from nine different countries. Classes are in English, and foreign language classes (French and Spanish) begin in Grade 1.
École française du Cap (Cape Town). This international school welcomes students from 20 different countries. Classes are bilingual (English-French), and the programs are recognised by the French Ministry of Education and the Cambridge Institute.
Deutsche Internationale Schule Johannesburg (DSJ). With over a thousand students, this school is one of the biggest German international schools in South Africa. Classes are bilingual (German-English). The graduation rate for students has been maintained at 100% over the past 15 years.
British International College in Bryanston. This school works with the Cambridge International Examination syllabuses and also has a college in Pretoria. Classes are taught in small classes, and curriculum can be designed specifically to accommodate the needs of students. This school also has a distance education department.
School times and holidays
Students attend school from Monday to Friday. Classes take place from 8 AM to 2.30 PM. After 2.30 PM, students can take part in after class activities or visit the local after care centre.
South African academic year is from January to December. It is split up into four terms:
- The first term begins on mid - January and ends in April. It is followed by Easter Holidays, which last 10 days.
- The second term is from mid - April to June. It is followed by the Winter Holidays, that last 21 days.
- The third term begins in mid – July and ends in September. Spring Holidays follow it, and last 10 days.
- The fourth term is from October to December. Christmas Holidays are 40 days long.
The teaching system
The teaching system in South Africa is called Outcome Based Education (OBE). It combines formal knowledge with everyday knowledge and requires students to research information themselves. They are encouraged to analyse and criticise the gathered information first for themselves instead of just absorbing and repeating what they have been taught.
Computer-based education is available in some areas, and the government is working on implementing it on disadvantaged communities as well.