Are Private Schools Sustainable During A Pandemic?


The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the South African economy, and with that, the education sector has been terribly hit by the unfortunate effects of the virus as well. The private school sector with regards to primary school, high school, and tertiary institutions has also felt these effects which, in turn, has put to question the sustainability of private schooling institutions.


In the context of both primary and high schooling, the National Income Dynamics Study - Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-SCRAM) Wave 5 report revealed that the pandemic resulted in a record-high rate of student dropouts due to parents/guardians worrying for their children’s safety, income disparities that made it harder for school fees to be paid, and so on.

Although these reports took into account schooling in both private and public institutions, the smaller population of private school students and their lack of government support, reveals the potential for enrolment and financial sustainability for private schooling institutions to be at great risk.

Despite many private schools sharing that they were more than capable of sustaining themselves during the pandemic through online learning, the same could not necessarily be said about parents with children enrolled at these private schools whose incomes became at risk due to the economic damage that the pandemic caused. Their ability to afford the school fees also hung in the balance, contributing to the negative effects placed on the private schooling system.

Furthermore, with regards to tertiary institutions, it has been reported that private colleges all over the world struggled to adapt to the economic damage that the pandemic produced.

For instance, the pandemic is said to have increased private colleges’ risk of closure by 47% in the United States, according to a University World News article on the matter.

Within the African continent, countries such as Uganda and Ghana saw a dramatic drop in admission numbers to private colleges as well as a large sum of outstanding student fees, according to the same article.

It is fair to assume that a similar turn of events may have occurred within our very own country of South Africa.

Hence, the private schooling system, despite its quick climb in popularity, has seen itself suffer in terms of maintaining itself in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.





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