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The actual cost of one South African school day

South African parents are all too familiar with the monthly debit order or regular payment for children's school fees. Educating your children is one of the most important things you'll ever do for them, but have you ever stopped to work out how much each day at school actually costs?
The actual cost of one South African school day
© Brian Jackson –
The cost of a child’s education is getting increasingly steeper in many locations across the country, and most school fees for 2019 increased above the rate of inflation.

The total average increases for South African school fees in 2019 were as follows:
  • State schools: 8.2%
  • Private schools: 7.8%

So, how much does one day of school cost?

In South Africa, each school-going learner attends about 200 days of school a year.

In this article, we’ll crunch the numbers for you so that you can get a better understanding of the true cost of each day at school.

School fees

To work out how much you’re paying for each of these days of school, the most obvious place to start is with the cost of the actual annual school fees.

The school fees that you pay are dependent on a number of factors, with some schools (especially private schools) vastly more expensive than others. In the poorest areas of South Africa, parents are exempt from paying school fees.

For the purposes of this article, we’ll look at average public school fees at a junior and high school level in a middle-class area, where you can expect to pay around R20,000 to R25,000 for the year.

Using a figure of R22,500, each day at school costs R112,50.

But what about all the other compulsory costs and expenses you’ll incur? There’s a bit more to schooling than just the fees themselves…

Here are some of the not-so-hidden costs to consider:

School uniforms

If your child's school has a standard school uniform (like grey pants and black skirts with white shirts), you can shop around at the major retail clothing stores. If this is the case, a school uniform will cost between R300 to R800.

However, many schools have very specific uniforms (stocked by only a handful of suppliers). If this is the case, a school blazer alone can cost almost R1000, bringing the total uniform cost (one set) up to about R1500.

School uniform cost: +/- R1000 a year

Fundraising fees

What is your school's policy on fundraising? Some schools charge a once-off fundraising fee; others require that you take part in fundraisers, such as donating cakes for bake sales.

Fundraising fees: +/- R300 a year

Stationery fees

Does the school provide stationery, or do you have to supply your own?

If your school supplies stationery for your child, there is often an extra fee in the region of R600. Or, perhaps you have the option of buying stationery yourself (possibly saving money). Nevertheless, you’re still going to have to fork out a couple of hundred rands.

Stationery costs: +/- R600 a year

School outings and camps

How much will school outings cost, and are they compulsory? The costs of school trips can vary dramatically, but we’ll base our estimate on four days trips at R150 each.

School outing costs: +/- R600 a year

Extra-curricular activities

Even though some schools include extra-curricular activities such as school sports and choir, you may still be expected to buy the necessary gear and equipment, as well as paying for things like trips and transport.

Extra-curricular activities: +/- R1500 a year

And this doesn’t include any private extra-curricular activities.

Little extras

Even if you’ve planned your budget carefully, you’ll still run into some unplanned costs such as gifts for teachers, a class T-shirt, or a costume for a school concert.

These extras all add up. At a conservative estimate, you’re looking at +/- R500 a year.

The total cost of a day at school

This brings the cost of school up to about R135 a day - at a relatively conservative estimate.

What are you doing to help you afford each day at school?

When it comes to planning for the future, every little bit helps. That’s why over 300,000 South Africans have joined the education revolution, taking the future of education into their hands through School-Days.

School-Days is a bursary building platform that gives you the opportunity to build a bursary for your family’s school, college and university fees, helping you provide for their education. Building a bursary is easy - for example, you can get contributions into your bursary from your employer, or when you and your family members shop at Dis-Chem.

School-Days is 100% free to join. To start building a bursary for your family’s education, visit:

About Shea Karssing

Shea Karssing is a writer for School-Days. School-Days gives you the opportunity to build a bursary for your family's school, college and university fees, helping you provide for their education. The platform is simple, and building a bursary is easy.

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