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Learning not cheap

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Often parents of learners are faced with paying for unexpected items, in addition to tuition fees and uniforms, at the start of the first school term.

This highlights the importance of financial planning. For instance, if a child experiences a growth spurt, extra uniform could be required, demanding a budget adjustment.

As times have changed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, education has also adapted. Hybrid learning – a combination of in person and online learning – requires investment in an up-to-date computer or a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. Speakers and headphones or earbuds are also needed, while a webcam supports activities that require video feedback. A stable internet connection and sufficient data add to the costs.

According to Statistics South Africa, education fees increased by 4,1% in 2021 – primary and secondary school fees increased by 2,5% and 4,3% respectively.

Simphiwe Ntsube (30) attests to the rising costs. Her two children (aged 3 and 6 years) started Gr. R and Gr. 1 on 17 January at Our Father’s Academy, a private school in Bloemfontein.

Although uniform is not part of the expenses for Gr. R, Ntsube sighed at the cost in Gr. 1.

“Uniform costs R3 330 for a Gr. 1 child,” she said.

According to Ntsube, the education of her children will cost at least R25 770 for the year.

Khanyisile Nhlapo’s son is in Gr. 5 at the Brandwag Primary School, and school fees for the year amount to R10 000. She says has spent R2 057 on uniform. One form of unexpected cost, going towards civvies (fundraising), is estimated to be R110 for the year.

Shafeeka Anthony, marketing manager of JustMoney.co.za, pointed out that education remained expensive despite a temporary reprieve in 2021, as annual increases were the lowest in 30 years.

“Add the unexpected costs, and parents could battle to keep up,” she said.

Anthony advised building up an emergency savings fund to act as a buffer.

“If you are already paying off debt, then building up savings will require meticulous management. Rather save less than create more debt.”

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