Curro grows its footprint in private school sector

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Johannesburg - Curro Holdings would aggressively increase its private school footprint in line with the growth of new residential areas, the group’s chief executive, Chris Van der Merwe, said yesterday.

The company, which owns about 32 private school, has acquired Grantleigh School in Empangeni in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Curro Holdings plans to own about 80 schools by 2020 and has recently acquired two Durban private schools, Embury College and Hillcrest Christian Academy, as well as KwaZulu-Natal-based Embury Institute for Teacher Education (EITE).

It has constructed five new schools this year, in the Western Cape, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.

All five schools will start operating next year.

Van der Merwe said out of these five schools, two schools, Meridian Polokwane and Meridian Karino, would be low-fee schools. Fees in these school would be about R1 300 from grade one to grade 12.

Curro said Grantleigh was its sixth major acquisition in the private schools market, including (EITE).

Van der Merwe said as more residential areas developed, more schools needed to be built. “What we have established is that the private sector will have to help the government to build enough schools.

“The state cannot be expected to supply schools for all these new areas, this is the role that private schools will have to play.” He said that the relationship between the private school sector and the government was sound.

The group opened its doors with 20 800 learners at the start of this year and current indications were that this number had grown to 26 000, he added.

“Curro has acquired Grantleigh at an amount with the contractual obligation to spend the same amount on upgrading the campus.”

He could not reveal how much Curro paid for the school and would only say: “When we have completed upgrades at the campus we would have spent about R100 million.”

Grantleigh is situated on a 15 hectare site and has more than 700 learners. Curro believes the school will achieve its full potential once boarding facilities are upgraded.

“The plan is to upgrade and modernise the boarding facilities, as well as the sporting grounds over time. We also foresee additional classrooms for among others art and culture activities,” the firm said.

This would provide room to increase enrolments to about 1 000 learners.

Curro also plans to expand the Grantleigh Titanium Learning Centre, sponsored by Richards Bay Minerals, as part of its vision to advance maths and science literacy.

Curro leapt 6.39 percent to R25.48 on the JSE yesterday. - Business Report

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