The Big Business of Private Education in SA

Updated on 18 February 2015

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The big business of private education in SA


The growing demand for private schools, and ongoing challenges in public education system – including poor governance, lack of infrastructure, shortages of teachers and many others – present a golden opportunity for entrepreneurs in the education sector.

Enterprising entrepreneurs can play a role in the construction, and running of high demand private facilities, and ultimately help to improve the country’s education system.

Filling in the gaps

Gerrie van Biljon, executive director at Business Partners Limited, says that entrepreneurs have the opportunity to provide additional facilities and services to aspiring learners and thereby increase the country’s knowledge and skill set base.

Van Biljon says education remains a major challenge in South Africa and has a direct impact on the current skills shortage in various facets of the local economy.

“Education does not stop with government”

According to van Biljon educating the country is everyone’s responsibility.

“Education does not stop with government. Other role players; namely trade unions, the business sector and industry representatives, should make a positive contribution and contribute to take on this challenge,” he says.

Business Partners last year launched a R150 million fund aimed at financing businesses such as privately owned schools, colleges, educational buildings and student accommodation, and provide support for entrepreneurs who want to help with the shortcomings in the South African education system.

Opportunities in education

Van Biljon says there is nothing stopping entrepreneurs from pursuing businesses in skills training for scholars to meet the demand, with various opportunities available in various specialties like hospitality and technology.

“Given some matriculants without a National Senior Certificate are unable to enroll for a university qualification, they may consider other education or training facilities to further their studies. This may vary from a hotel school to graphic design, and this offers entrepreneurs opportunities to provide a service to this market,” he says.

“With many young South Africans also realising that a matric is no longer sufficient to ensuring a sound career, specialist training becomes an attractive option. Entrepreneurs can satisfy this growing need by offering either short or long specialty courses,” he adds.

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