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Educational System in South Africa

The one tip that you hear expats living in South Africa repeatedly sharing with newcomers is not to buy a home when you first move to South Africa. Rent for a few months or longer so that you have time to find the right neighborhood. Give yourself time to ensure that South Africa is right for you for the long term. If you've already taken time to do those things and are ready to take the plunge and become a property owner, here are tips about buying a home in South Africa.
|-Educational System in South Africa

South Africa’s education system is diverse and offers a range of options to suit the needs of both local and expatriate families. The system is structured to provide quality education to all students, regardless of their background or language proficiency. This guide aims to provide expatriates with a comprehensive understanding of the South African education system, including the main stages of education, enrollment procedures, language requirements, and the availability of public, private, and alternative schooling options.

What are the main stages of education in South Africa?

The South African education system is divided into three main stages: Foundation Phase, Intermediate Phase, and Senior Phase. The Foundation Phase includes grades R (Reception) to 3, the Intermediate Phase includes grades 4 to 6, and the Senior Phase includes grades 7 to 9. After the Senior Phase, students enter the Further Education and Training (FET) phase, which includes grades 10 to 12.

Foundation Phase

The Foundation Phase, for children aged 5 to 9, focuses on developing basic literacy, numeracy, and life skills. The curriculum is designed to be engaging and interactive, encouraging children to learn through play and exploration. The main subjects taught during this phase are Home Language, English as an additional language, Mathematics, and Life Skills.

Intermediate Phase

The Intermediate Phase, for children aged 10 to 12, builds on the foundational skills acquired in the previous phase. The curriculum expands to include Natural Sciences and Technology, Social Sciences, and Economic and Management Sciences, in addition to the subjects taught in the Foundation Phase.

Senior Phase

The Senior Phase, for children aged 13 to 15, prepares students for the FET phase. The curriculum includes a wider range of subjects, and students are required to choose elective subjects based on their interests and career aspirations.

How does a newcomer from a different country enroll their kids in school?

Newcomers can enroll their children in South African schools by submitting an application to the school of their choice. The application should include the child’s birth certificate, passport, immunization records, and previous school reports. Some schools may also require an admissions test or interview.

Can children who are still learning English enroll in a public school?

Yes, children who are still learning English can enroll in public schools in South Africa. Most public schools offer English as a medium of instruction, and additional language support is provided to non-native speakers.

Are there public bilingual schools?

Yes, there are public bilingual schools in South Africa, particularly in regions with a high concentration of Afrikaans speakers. These schools offer instruction in both English and Afrikaans. Admission to these schools is based on the same criteria as other public schools.

What types of private schools are common in South Africa?

Private schools in South Africa include international schools, religious schools, Montessori schools, and Waldorf schools. International schools follow international curriculums like the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the Cambridge International Examinations (CIE). Religious schools are often affiliated with a specific faith and incorporate religious teachings into their curriculum.

Do expats typically send their children to public or private school?

Many expats in South Africa choose to send their children to private schools, particularly international schools, due to the familiarity of the curriculum and the high standard of education. However, some expats also choose public schools, especially those that offer bilingual education.

How expensive are Private schools in South Africa?

The cost of private schools in South Africa varies widely, depending on the type of school and the specific services it offers. International schools tend to be the most expensive, with annual fees ranging from R50,000 to over R200,000.

Are you allowed to homeschool while living in South Africa?

Yes, homeschooling is legal in South Africa. Parents who choose to homeschool their children must register with the Department of Basic Education and follow the national curriculum.

May kids attend online school instead of a local school while living in South Africa?

Yes, online schooling is an option in South Africa. There are several accredited online schools that offer a complete curriculum for all grades. This can be a flexible and convenient option for families who travel frequently or prefer a home-based learning environment.

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

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