The difference between public & independent school


Looking at this simple comparison of the core differences, might help you to understand these two concepts a little better.


Public Schools  
  • You get no fee, ordinary and former model C public schools.
  • They are state controlled.
  • Established by the MEC for education in each province.
  • Fees are usually increased in line with the inflation rate.
  • Receives a state subsidy.
  • Average of 36 learners per class.
  • No admission tests when you apply.
  • Write the exams of the Department of Education and obtains a National Senior Certificate at the end of Matric.
  • Public schools have financial limitations with regards to facilities and resources and rely on fund raising events to cover upkeep costs or to appoint additional teachers.
  • Former Model C schools can compare well with independent schools with regards to facilities such as computers, science laboratories, sports facilities, books and libraries. They are funded by governing bodies of parents and alumni. 
  • There are no fee schools in each province, which receive all their funding from the government and do not have to charge school fees to those who cannot afford it. There are specific guidelines on the Department of Basic Education’s website that you have to adhere to in order to qualify for this.
  • Public primary and high schools moved from the National Curriculum Statement (NCS) to the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).
Read more about the School Leaver's certificate

Independent Schools
  • Privately governed by a community, church, trust or non-profit organisation.
  • Registered with the Provincial Education Department.
  • Has freedom in decision making within the boundaries of the Constitution and National legislation. This applies to decisions about governance, finances and the teachers they appoint.
  • Fees can be higher than the cost of university study per year. 
  • No state subsidy, unless they adhere to the requirements in the Norms and Standards for School Funding, 2006.
  • Average of 15-20 learners per class.
  • Admission tests or interviews might be part of application process.
  • Chooses their own curriculum and examinations. Can write the public examinations, exams from the Independent Examination Board (IEB) or International examinations.
  • Focus is on quality education, facilities and educational resources.
Read more on how to choose the perfect school for your child.