Online vs in-person schooling: What's the cost difference in 2021?

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Could premium education become more affordable for parents? (Getty Images)
Could premium education become more affordable for parents? (Getty Images)

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many South African schools now offer the option of online learning, raising the question of what education may look like in the new normal. Could this be the safer, affordable option for parents looking to secure a quality education for their children?

Previous research from independent advisory firm AlphaWealth found that the cost of top-rate, traditional private school education in South Africa averaged between R1.8m and R8.7m over a child’s entire schooling career.

These numbers, while staggering, exclude external necessities such as textbooks and uniforms, and refer only to the actual fees. 

How do fees for alternative online options compare?

Also read: How to study for a future-proof career in the creative industry

Premium options

The majority of premium private schools appear to be offering online classes for current learners during the pandemic. 

This includes a purely online school offering from a local private school aimed at learners from grade eight, which comes in at a reduced cost of R85 000 per annum, with annual in-person high school fees potentially costing up to R154 000.

This could amount to an annual saving of over R69 000 for just academics, or over R200 000 when taking into account boarding and entrance fees.

More accessible options

Another independent school network already offering relatively affordable school fees has joined the online schooling world, lowering the price point for parents looking to try an alternative learning method. 

While its traditional school fees can range from around R73 080 (grade R full-day) to R110 880 (grade ten to 12) annually, their 2021 annual online fees amount to between R44 160 (grade four to seven) and R50 400 (grade eight to ten).

These fees do not include e-books, learning materials and e-learning devices such as laptops.

By opting for more accessibly priced online learning, parents could be making savings of up to R60 480, annually. 

Also see: Study shows children learn a great deal on YouTube

Purely online options

Online schooling has been an option since long before the pandemic, with many established virtual offerings providing South African learners from grade R to 12 with alternatives to traditional schooling. 

These distance learning fully online schools follow various educational programmes from CAPS to the Cambridge curriculum and annual fees range from as little as R14 000 to R60 000 annually. 

Kerry Fynn, CEO of AlphaWealth says "Over time we may see more top-rated private schools adapting to provide purely online offerings to retain admissions and remain competitive. This could result in premium education becoming more affordable for parents". 

Submitted to Parent24 by AlphaWealth. 

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