Money talks

The cost of getting educated

14 January 2020 | Onderwys
Iréne-Mari van der Walt

There are few things in life more valuable than obtaining a quality education. Education opens doors to many worlds and dimensions. Once obtained, it cannot be taken away. But it comes with a hefty price tag.

For most parents, sending their children to the best private schools that money can buy is not an option and they must make their peace with the more budget-friendly alternatives available.

The saying goes that one should never say you cannot afford something until you know exactly what it costs. My Zone therefore set out to uncover the costs of studying at private and state schools.

High life

Private School Swakopmund (PSS) takes its branding seriously. The school’s logo adorns shirts, blazers, tracksuit jackets, golf shirts, eco fleece jackets, sport shirts, caps, wide-brimmed hats, sport shorts or skirts and many other uniform items required.

For the sake of remaining as budget friendly as possible, some uniform items that were deemed unnecessary by parents who have or had children in PSS were not included in the tally of uniform costs.

The majority of parents seemed to focus on items such as the school shirt, blazer, eco-fleece jacket, golf shirt, tracksuit and sport shirt. This is aside from normal school uniform items like school pants or skirts, shoes and socks.

PSS’s stationary requirements for grade 1 are:

1x box of tissues N$20

1 x pack of retractable crayons N$30

3 x 43g glue stick N$35

3 x white eraser N$20

1 x A4 whiteboard N$40

3 x whiteboard markers N$45

1 x box of 50 Unifix cubes N$90

6 x 72pg feint & margin book N$15

1 x feint & margin nature study book N$7

2 x 72pg quad & margin book N$15

1 x entry-level recorder N$230

To keep at home:

1 x canvas zip bag for homework N$40

1 x HB pencil N$2.50

1 x eraser N$5

1 x ruler N$5

Total N$ 604.50

* Prices have been rounded, but are a reflection of retail prices for a single count of that item found at various outlets.

When taking the aforementioned figures into account, plus annual school fee (12 x N$3 825) and the annual registration fee (N$3 150), the total amounts to over N$50 000 per year.

Budget friendly

A more budget-friendly option is state education. The stationary list is longer, but the savings on school uniforms and the exclusion of monthly school fees make this route more viable.

Grade 1 stationary at Narraville Primary School in Walvis Bay are as follows:

2 x thick-barrel pencils N$5

2 x packets of thick colour pencils N$75

1 x chair bag N$105

3 x 36g glue stick N$35

2 x 50 pocket display file N$50

6 x folders to carry books N$240

3 x ream copy paper N$180

3 x plastic to cover books N$30

3 x brown paper to cover books N$10

1 x 24 pc. wooden puzzle N$60

Coloured paper N$65

1 x skipping rope N$25

1 x A4 hardcover 192 pg book N$15

Play dough N$35

1 x scissors N$5

1 x bean bag N$35

Total N$ 970

* Prices have been rounded, but are a reflection of retail prices for a single count of that item found at various outlets.

School uniforms also cost significantly less at Narraville Primary:

2 x long school pants N$140

2 x white school blouse N$70

1 x black school shoes N$90

2 x pair of school socks N$25

1 x school jersey N$300

Total N$625

* Prices have been rounded, but are a reflection of retail prices for a single count of that item found at various outlets.

Even when accounting for the cost of an annual raffle booklet which many parents habitually pay out of their pocket, the annual amount for state education totals N$2 000 per year. This is less than a month’s school fees at Private School Swakopmund.

None of these estimates make provision for the replacement of stationary or school uniforms, nor do they account for school trips and day-to-day expenses like tuck-shop money or money for fundraisers like culture days.

With an estimated difference of N$48 000 between the two, it is as clear as daylight which is the more viable option for parents who are less financially fortunate. The question remains whether N$2 000 is viable, though.

Given that some parents are either unemployed or earn low salaries, we also need to consider that many of them have more than one child at school.

Schools also do not have it easy with the government constantly trimming budgets. They are expected to toil in order to give the best education they can on a budget that struggles to keep up with rising prices.

These schools rely on parents to assist in buying supplies but most parents are dependent on the government to help them give their kids a better future.



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