Saving for your children’s education

2011-02-19 00:00

REPORTS about a breakdown in the state schooling system are creating a greater demand for private education.

However, household finances are taking enormous strain and few can afford to pay higher school fees.

While some private schools still do the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exam, most use the Independent Examinations Board (IEB) matric exam. The IEB, like the NSC, has to be certified by Umalusi — the national qualification authority.

Eddie Conradie of Curro Private Schools says some of their schools are switching over to the IEB due to concerns about grade inflation and “block adjustments” in the NSC exams.

Marc Falconer, the headmaster of the King David High School, Linksfield, argues: “In the state system it is perfectly possible to achieve a good matric by drill and practice, while this is not true for an IEB candidate.”

Another claim by the headmaster is that the IEB exam prepares students better for tertiary education.

IEB students generally fare well at university as they deliver a disproportionate number of graduates in scarce skills like maths and science, says Simon Lee of the Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (Isasa).

A private education presents an undeniably great “networking” opportunity among SA’s upper classes.

Lee says there has been a surge in faith-based and “corporate” schools, which usually charge between R18 000 and R25 000 a year.

The fees of some state schools are also closing in on the R20 000 mark, while top-end private schools like Michaelhouse charge more than R160 000 — boarding included.

Consult your financial planner for advice on how to save for your child’s education.


1. Cut back on your expenses

Henry van Deventer of independent financial services group Acsis says: “Continue to make sure that your fixed expenses are kept as low as possible.

“Reviewing these costs [insurance etc.] with a qualified professional at least once a year is important in this regard.

2. Check – and peg - your lifestyle

Funding a new expense like education is often best done by cutting back on an existing one, Van Deventer says.

3. Pay in advance

You may get a discount if you pay your school fees in advance. Set your annual bonus aside towards school fees.

4. Make sure you get value for your money

Do extensive homework before deciding on a school. Don’t exclude state schools from your list.

5. Apply for bursaries

“Bursaries are not always intended for the best and the brightest. Sometimes they are focused on providing an opportunity for someone who is not able to afford to pay for it.” — Fin24.

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