Slow Uptake for Curro Online-only Teaching

The group plans to invest a further R600 million to create capacity in schools (mainly 2019 greenfield schools) where growth continues and the acquisition of land that was committed to before the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Curro School
Curro School

As at the end of July 2020, Curro had more than 400 learners enrolled in Curro Online, South Africa’s largest private education group revealed on Wednesday.

“Curro is committed to making quality education more accessible to learners in southern Africa,” the group informed investors.

The private school group announced in May the launch of a “new school” that offers online-only teaching in the midst of the pandemic which provides remote teaching and learning for learners.

It is the first online school which aims to provide a flexible education model, with classes taught by current Curro teachers.

Teachers guide pupils through the national curriculum (CAPS), digitally.

Matric has not yet been phased into the model.

The school is English-medium and initially offer grades 4 to 9, with new grades being phased in every year.

The group’s online school cost R3,500 per month for Grades 4 to 6, and R4,000 per month for Grades 7 and above.

Despite tough and uncertain times brought about by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Curro’s operations and results for the six months ended 30 June 2020 were satisfactory under the circumstances.

For the first quarter (3 months until the end of March 2020) Curro traded above expectations in terms of learner number growth and fee collections.

Learner numbers were 9% higher (from December 2019 to January 2020) and fee collections 24% higher compared to the same period in the prior year.

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic led to the temporary closure of schools from 18 March 2020 until 1 June 2020, when a phased return of learners commenced.

During the lockdown schooling was facilitated through remote learning, predominantly using the Microsoft Teams platform.

For the period under review, learner numbers increased by 5% from 57 173 to 59 967 and revenue by 7% from R1 480 million to R1 590 million compared to the same period in 2019. The school fee increase of 15% from 2019 to 2020 was offset by the increase in discounts from 7.5% of revenue to 12.6% of revenue. This includes a once-off COVID-19 related discount of R60 million (3.8% of revenue).

While learner numbers for primary and high schools were negatively impacted, nursery schools in particular saw a material decline in learner numbers as it is not a compulsory phase of schooling.

“We are confident that Curro will continue to navigate its operations during the short-term uncertainty as the fundamentals of the business remain sound,” the company said.

For the period under review R278 million was invested on completion of projects already commenced in 2019 and replacement of moveable assets. The group plans to invest a further R600 million to create capacity in schools (mainly 2019 greenfield schools) where growth continues and the acquisition of land that was committed to before the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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