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KwaZulu-Natal - The number of public schools in KwaZulu-Natal increased between 2000 and 2011, bucking the national trend.
Figures released by the SA Institute of Race Relations last week showed that, 12 years ago, there were 26 789 state schools compared to 24 365 last year – a 9 percent drop.
However, over the same period, nearly 300 more were established in KZN, bringing the number of schools in the province to 5 957.
Institute researcher Jonathan Snyman attributes the growth to the size of the province and migration.
KZN is the second most popular destination for families who have left the Eastern Cape, Free State, Limpopo and North West in search of jobs.
In those four provinces, the number of pupils who attend public schools has dwindled.
Nationally this figure rose by 1 percent, but is up by 6.9 percent in KZN.
For private schools there was an 87 percent spike in the number of pupils between 2000 and 2011.
The figure was 49.9 percent for KZN – one of the lowest compared to the other nine provinces. The Western Cape came in at 60 percent, and Gauteng at 76.6 percent. The data was sourced from the Department of Basic Education.
Snyman explained that there were fewer public schools because smaller schools had merged.
“There are negative connotations attached to the closure of public schools. It’s overlooked that the vast majority of these are under-resourced. In the Eastern Cape, for instance, there has been a massive drive to eradicate mud schools, which counts as a closure,” Snyman said.
Of the surge in private school enrolment, Snyman said the figure was 529 percent in the Eastern Cape and 117 percent in Limpopo.
The education departments in both these provinces were placed under administration last year.
Snyman said that from 2008, middle-class people had become the target market for private schools.
“Private schools have a better record of students who are accepted to university and finish their degrees,” he said.
But Snyman added that the number of pupils who attended private schools was still “negligible”, making up only 4 percent of the total number.
He did not believe the national decline in public schools was a result of a mass exodus to private education. - The Mercury