Curro to expand tertiary education scope

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PRIVATE education provider Curro is investing about R250m as part of its plans to expand into the provision of tertiary education.

The group provides education from nursery schooling to training teachers at the Embury Institute for Teacher Education in KwaZulu-Natal.

CEO Chris van der Merwe said it was extending its higher education offering. “We have invested approximately R100m in Embury to extend capacity from 820 students to 2,500 students,” he said.

“We are also developing our second institute of higher education at Waterfall Estate (Johannesburg). Building plans have been drawn up and it is earmarked to take students from 2018.

“That one will cost about R150m. Construction will start in 2016.”

Mr van der Merwe, a former primary school teacher, said there were also plans to develop an institution of higher learning in the Western Cape.

Curro, which attracted negative press this year for racial incidents at one of its schools, said the expansion showed its commitment to helping improve basic education in SA. “This is a clear illustration of assisting the state. We need to train good teachers,” Mr van der Merwe said.

He said the colleges would train teachers who wanted to teach anywhere.

Curro’s institution of higher learning had been accredited to offer a Bachelor of Education degree to teachers who taught from Grade 1 to Grade 6. It was also seeking accreditation to offer the degree for teachers up to grade 9, he said.

“An institute for higher education has the potential to accredit programmes beyond teacher training,” said Mr van der Merwe.

He said the failure to take over rival private education institution Advtech did not mean Curro’s target to have 80 campuses by 2020 was not on track.

“We said we were going to deliver 40 campuses by 2020 when we listed. After a year, we saw that we totally underestimated the market and we changed that vision to 80 campuses. We reached 42 campuses this year, five years ahead of our initial target,” Mr van der Merwe said.

The company bought Windhoek Gymnasium, a private education provider in Namibia, for R180m two months ago in its first foray outside SA. It is exploring opportunities in Kenya, Zambia and Botswana.

Source: Sunday Times

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