I owe, I owe, it’s off to (private) school I go

Parents of learners attending the country’s top private schools pay high fees for their children’s tuition and boarding, with additional expenses for “extras”.

If your daughter is at Roedean School in Johannesburg, where annual tuition and boarding fees amount to R220 275, you will have to top it up with an additional R4 977 for a so-called building levy. Then there’s also the compulsory learner insurance of R140 a year.

Learners wishing to take advantage of hot meals would need to pay an extra R7 500 a year.

“Support” tuition comes at R180 a lesson and those opting for music lessons would pay R6 190 a year. And for your child to do art in grades 10 to 12, be prepared to pay an annual levy of R1 000.

Grade eight to 12 learners at St Martin’s School in Johannesburg have to pay an “ancillary” levy of R1 700.

Other yearly charges include:

  • Art (grades 11 to 12): R4 800;
  • Computer studies/information technology (grades 10 to 12): R4 500;
  • Drama (grades 10 to 12): R1 300; and
  • Hospitality (grades 10 to 12): R5 100.

Pupils could also order breakfast, lunch and dinner at St Martin’s if their parents are willing to pay an additional R16 200 a year. And making use of the school’s bus service would set them back R9 100 annually.

At St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls in Kloof, KwaZulu-Natal, a learner’s “capital development” and enrolment fee is R14 500. A day scholar’s lunch will cost R1 595 a term, and supper is R38.50 a meal.

Sacred Heart College in Johannesburg charges a R4 880 maintenance levy per family, to cover major maintenance projects.

High school pupils may also hire lockers for R150 a year. The school’s magazine for this year costs R360 a family, which the school says is a nominal fee as the cost of producing it is much higher.

Levies are also charged for particular subjects in the high school. For example, if a learner is doing visual art, he or she will pay R650, and those doing dramatic art will pay R530.

Parents are also liable for a “learner material levy”, which ranges from R1 840 for grade seven to R2 320 for matric.

The high school also offers a homework class from 4pm until 5:45pm that caters for learners in grades seven to 12 who are waiting to be collected by parents. The fee is R1 850 a term.

Colin Northmore, head of Sacred Heart College, said: “We are about R10 000 to R15 000 cheaper than most of our competitors, but we are still a very expensive school. We are not a low-fee or medium-fee school.”

SA's most expensive private schools

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Prega Govender
Prega Govender is the Mail & Guardians education editor. He was a journalist at the Sunday Times for almost 20 years before joining the M&G in May 2016. He has written extensively on education issues pertaining to both the basic and higher education sectors.

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