If you are an expatriate looking for a school for your kids in South Africa read our important points to consider when choosing the right school

Finding the right school for your children is the top priority when relocating to a new country. If you cannot find a school that has space for the kids and feels right this can easily be a deal breaker when deciding whether to take the expatriate assignment.

The good news is that South Africa has a variety of local and international schools that offer world class education and if you do your homework you will certainly find an excellent school for your children.

Local or International

The argument for choosing an international school

Language: South Africa hosts a number of international schools including German, French, Chinese, American and Russian to name the most popular. Kids can learn in their mother tongue and meet other kids who speak their language. Additionally international schools do not have local African languages as compulsory subjects.

Curriculum: many of the international schools follow a curriculum similar to other countries or provide additional programmes that are internationally recognised such as the IB (international baccalaureate), A and O levels (UK certificate of education), Cambridge programmes and more.

School year: Some of the international schools follow the Northern hemisphere school calendar meaning their school year starts in August- September and ends in June, unlike the South African schools that follow the Southern hemisphere programme starting the school year in January and ending in December.

Meet other expatriate kids and parents: typically the international schools host a larger number of expatriate children than local schools making them cosmopolitan and understanding to the challenges kids face when moving country and having to fit into new environments and finding friends.

Easier to gain entry: international schools are more likely to have space for the new children because many of their kids only stay there for 2-3 years before moving off to another country.

Potential for work: some international schools encourage expatriate non-working spouses to participate in the school activities as volunteers or even offer them teaching positions if they qualify.

The argument for choosing local South African schools:


History and traditions: Many South African schools have long history and traditions that translate into a strong school identity and culture, a sense of belonging and pride for the children and top class education. Fantastic sport: South African schools value sport and expose children to a variety of sports including team and individual sports during the entire school curriculum. Kids receive a healthy balance of sport, education and culture and learn how to compete in a number of activities. Parent interest groups: Parents form many interest groups and get involved in the school activities which gives an opportunity to meet local friends and immerse in the local cultures.

Cost: in many cases the local South African schools are more affordable than the international schools.

Location: it is more likely to find a good South African school close to work and in a desirable location sometimes even within walking distance of your home. This will certainly contribute to the family’s quality of life and provide more opportunities to make friends for both parents and kids in the area.

Lasting friendships: the local friends your children will make are more likely to stay with the school for the duration of their studies and not move every few years so your kids will have relative stability in their friendships.

Local culture: what better way to immerse yourself into the local culture than attending the local school, learning through the local curriculum and making friends with the local kids and adults? Every expatriate assignment would benefit from the great opportunities that living in a new country presents.

In our next blog we will look at practical tips for choosing the right school in South Africa.

Relocating to a new country is stressful for the whole family. Having the peace of mind that your children have a great new school can significantly help in your positive attitude towards your expatriate assignment. Expats On The Globe has years of experience in helping families find the right schooling for their children. Call us today or visit our website for more information on how we can add value to your assignment.

Expats On The Globe has years of experience in helping families find the right schooling for their children. Call us today or visit our website for more information on how we can add value to your assignment.