Parents with school going children have received some reprieve from the rampant rise in school fees in recent years but university costs have continued to spiral in 2021 despite tough economic conditions.

This was among the latest findings of a survey Statistics South African conducted in March 2021 to track the price inflation of education in the country.

Education inflation recorded its lowest annual rate in three decades, according to data from Stats SA’s latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) released on Wednesday.

Stats SA, which surveys educational institutions and crèches once a year in March, found that fees increased by 4,1% in 2021. 

“Last year’s rise was 6,4%. Historical data shows that this is the lowest increase since at least 1991,” Stats SA said in a statement.

“Schools were a contributing factor to the slower rise in education fees in 2021. Concerned about what impact higher costs would have on families during the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools implemented marginal increases to the fees that they charge.”

According to the Stats SA survey primary and secondary school fees increased by 2,5% and 4,3% respectively in 2021, compared to 7,3% and 7,6% recorded in 2020. “Increases in crèche fees were similarly lower at 2,9% compared with 6,7% in 2020,” Statistics SA said.

However, the data showed that tertiary institutions had bucked the trend.

“Fees at universities and universities of technology increased on average by 5,1% in 2021, higher than the 4,7% rise recorded in 2020. University boarding fees increased by 6,5% in 2021, slightly higher than 2020’s 5,9%,” Statistics SA said.

SA universities have been at the forefront of student protests in recent years during which students have demanded free education and for historical debt to be written off. In 2018 the government eventually introduced free higher education for all new first year students from families that earn less than R350 000 per year.

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Presh JM Reporter

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