Clarity on independent schools subsidy | Western Cape Government

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Clarity on independent schools subsidy

21 August 2017

Earlier this month, the Chairperson of the Standing Committee released a press statement that indicated that the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) provides subsidies to 101 independent schools. What the statement did not clarify is the basis on which these subsidies are provided to independent schools.

The subsidy is, in fact, only provided to independent schools that serve poorer communities.

Some organisations are trying to create the impression that we are funding wealthy private schools, which is not the case.

There are currently 254 independent schools across the province. The WCED provides a subsidy to 101 schools which serve low income households. Of these, 24 are no-fee independent schools while the remainder are low fee independent schools.
We currently subsidise 13 809 learners in independent primary schools and 7 319 learners in independent high schools, representing a total of 21 218 learners.
The advantage of independent schools is that they extend the range of choice available to families - especially families in poorer, working class and middle class communities.
In addition to these advantages, the public education system benefits financially, by freeing up funds for development of the public school system.
The cost of educating 13 809 primary school learners in the public system would be R171 521 589, based on the current cost to the department of R13 809 per learner.
Similarly, the cost of educating 7 319 high school learners at a cost of R17 201 per learner would be R125 894 119.

This brings the total potential cost of educating these learners in public schools - as opposed to subsidised independent schools - to R297 415 708.
Given that our current subsidies to independent schools total R107 578 000, it would cost us an additional R189 837 708 to provide for these learners in public schools.

  Number of Learners Cost to educate these number of learners in a Public vs Private school Difference in costs
Independent schools 21 218 R297 415 708 -R189 837 708
Public Schools 21 218 R487 253 416 +R189 837 708


Independent schools play an important role in the education system by providing learners and parents with more choice and more access to education. This does not occur at the expense of the state, as is clear from the figures quoted above.

Media Enquiries: 

Jessica Shelver
Cell: 076 175 0663