For those people who don’t know that much about me (although I’ve certainly never hidden any of this information), I am a mother to two beautiful boys. Of course I think they’re beautiful, I’m their mom, but come on, how can you not love these faces?
My eldest is 4 and the younger one is almost 10 months old (slightly younger in this photo). I never thought that I would be the mother obsessed with getting my kid into a good school, but as my eldest approaches primary school, I find myself increasingly thinking and worrying about my children’s education. Ok, I wouldn’t say obsessed (I know the obsessive parents, I’m not willing to change areas just to be zoned for the “right” school”), but I still spend way more time than I ever thought possible thinking about a primary school.
When I was at school… Wait, just backing up a bit, but I’ve come to the conclusion that this was a very long time ago. I’ve long passed my 10 year reunion (in reality I’m only a few years away from my 20 year reunion) and every time I meet someone who was born in the year I matriculated, I want to cringe just a little. Ok, a lot. Anyway, the point is that when I was at school it really wasn’t at all essential to go to a private school. A government school education was still pretty damn good, especially if you went to a reputable one, like I did.
Nowadays however, let’s be honest, the quality of education is becoming ever more important, and the reality is that if we want our children to have a really good education and every opportunity, we need to start thinking outside the public schooling system in South Africa.
The biggest issue however is the cost. In the past year there have been a number of articles written on the most expensive private schools in South Africa. It’s a very sharp wake up call when you calculate that if you’re lucky you might be spending around R7000.00 a month (my child is still 2 years away from primary school so this will have gone up by then) for a single child.
I have two. That’s a rough estimate of R14000.00 a month before school uniforms, sports equipment, books (or iPads or laptops as so many schools now require). Honestly? I can’t afford that. My husband and I earn good salaries and we can’t afford it. Yeah sure perhaps we could make sacrifices and cutbacks in order to do that, but I’m also not willing to pauper my family and put us in debt in order to pay for their schooling.
So what are the alternatives?
You might say that nothing is more valuable than a good education – and I agree with you wholeheartedly, but I don’t want to be worrying every month that I can pay the bills and put food on the table just because I’ve spent most of my salary on school fees.
So what are the alternatives? Home schooling? No, that’s not an option for us – we both have full time jobs.
Do we emigrate? I have the option to do that certainly as I have an Australian passport and my family would be given permanent residence based on the strength of that, but call me crazy (a lot of people have) I have a number of reasons for wanting to stay in South Africa, and the possibility of moving is a more long term discussion.
I don’t currently have solutions to this predicament other than looking for public schools that currently still offer a high standard of education. I have discovered that there are alternative models available such as SPARK Schools for example. They apparently offer a private school education with public school pricing, through the use of blended learning models involving computer lab based learning combined with classroom teaching.
At SPARK Schools, we provide high quality education at an affordable cost. – SPARK website
I haven’t made a decision as yet, but it’s something I’m going to have to do soon and I can’t help but worry if I’m making the correct one.
For anyone who is a new parent – the moment you suddenly realise you’re worrying about your kids’ education is an eye opening one. I think we all want the best for our kids, and we really just do what we can.