While South African students continue to fight for free higher education, free basic education for all already exists –– on paper –– at many no-fee primary and secondary schools.
However, there is no shortage of parents willing to pay for a top-quality private education at primary and secondary level –– although in 2018, even they may be starting to feel the budgeting pinch, as the already steep fees spiral higher and higher every year. Parents with children starting at the top schools this year had better hope their incomes keep pace with fee inflation...
HuffPost took a roll-call of the 2018 fees for some of the South Africa's most expensive schools, and then put together estimates of what they would cost by 2025.
*Disclaimer: The 2025 figures are estimated projections based on previous years' fee increases -- they were calculated using an average annual percentage increase in fees, with all other variables like currency values presumed constant.
1. Hilton College, KZN Midlands: R272,685. 2025 estimate: R437,000
The boys' boarding school a few kilometres from Pietermaritzburg has been ranked at number one in terms of cost for several years. Founded in 1872, it sits on more than 1,700 hectares of land, including its own wildlife reserve. Its fees increased from R253,660 in 2017.
2. Michaelhouse, KZN Midlands: R265,680. 2025 estimate: R373,588
It topped the list last year, so Michaelhouse continues its seesaw competition with Hilton College –– which was the second-most expensive school in 2017. The two schools have a lot in common, from being the only two full-boarding schools remaining in the province, to their hefty price tags. Michaelhouse has produced more than 30 Rhodes scholars, who got to study at Oxford University in the U.K.
3. St Andrew's College, Grahamstown: R252,990. 2025 estimate: R372,930
St Andrews boasts alumni including famous sportsmen, politicians and businessmen, and is considered one of the country's top boys' schools. The independent school's annual fees have gone up by R70,000 per annum since 2016.
4. Kearsney College, Botha's Hill: R242,220. 2025 estimate: R338,555
The "poor relation" of KZN's three most prestigious schools (along with Hilton and Michaelhouse) is still out of reach for most. Kearnsney's fees have increased by 7.2 percent from 2017.
5. St Stithians College, Sandton: R232,640. 2025 estimate: R383,452
The private school with two single-sex streams in Sandton, Johannesburg has increased their fees from R229,010 in 2016.
6. Herschel Girls' School, Cape Town: R190,150. 2025 estimate: R284,033
The independent Anglican girls' school fees grew by 6.3 percent in 2017 –– from R169,320 in 2016 to R180,040 in 2017.
Here are some other schools that are heading for sky-high fees:
While those schools are private, it looks like some government schools will also see fees top R100,000 per annum in coming years. Public schools that are already expensive include Wynberg Boys' High in Cape Town(R42,800), Parktown Boys' High (R42,000) and Parktown High School for Girls (R39,125) in Johannesburg , and Glenwood (R47,100) in Durban.