Free High School Education (March 2018)

Published March 2018

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist


I am very pleased to be announcing Free High School Education in South Africa.

Sound too good to be true?

Not really!

World-wide it is nothing new at all: Norway, Sweden, Germany and several other countries have had systems in place for some time now, some even decades. So why is it so hard to believe that South Africa is announcing this?

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

We have done many things first that other nations have not! We invented computerised ticketing, the speed gun, Pratley Putty – (SA product to go to the moon). We were first for solutions in CyberTracker. Then there are medical achievements that go on and on: Retinal Cryosurgery, first heart transplant, CAT scan, first penis transplant. We have done many practical things as well: The Kreepy Krauly, the first digital laser, we arranged oil from coal, thanks to Sasol. We created the Smartlock safety syringe…. WOW, WOW, WOW.

So, be thrilled with this announcement. It was always within our capability. BUT the question of “does free education mean better education?” has to be answered.

After all, why do something different if there is no improvement in the result?

Let’s look at some comparisons very quickly, starting with countries with the best education systems in the World; South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Finland, UK and Canada.

Now, looking at these countries, is there an obvious link between them and countries with the best economies? Surely there would be? Education = jobs = good economy, right?

How do we work out who has the best economy? Do we look at countries with the top GDP? Well, they are the United States, China, Japan, Germany, United Kingdom, India, France and Brazil.

Does education make a country or its people wealthier?

What makes a nation truly wealthy?

Surely it’s not just about the GDP?

How about countries that have the happiest people like New Zealand, the Netherlands, Canada, Finland, Norway, Iceland and Switzerland.

Switzerland has no right to have miserable people, not with all their chocolate.

So quality of life versus access to free education—is there a link? Do countries with the highest standard of living offer free education? Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, Denmark, Canada and Finland do.

Starting to see some patterns here or are you noticing that none of these places are in Africa?

The reason I am so excited to make this announcement is because it would be a first for Africa!

I also believe knowledge is power. Freedom to act and make informed decisions about yourself and those you care for.

I believe the true wealth of a nation can be determined by the level of education of its people.

So why has free education taken so long to happen in South Africa? Many reasons have been provided. 792 billion reasons, actually. Sorry, 792 billion rand, which is the cost of basic education at the moment!

To succeed, the amount of failures does not matter because you only need one success to have achieved the goal!

Well, I am happy to announce that the 792 billion rand challenge has been solved, by 1 solution… and basic education in South Africa will be free in 48 months!

Grades 8-12 for any South African.


Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

The solution to the trending #freeeducation in South Africa is rather clever and directly in line with what I do, and probably the reason you’re reading this from me first, and not another website.

So let me get into the details and start by sharing that this solution exceeds expectations.

It not only enable free high school education for learners not yet enrolled at a school, but also supports those who are already in high school—private or government—This is important because in 2016 only 37% of South African students passed matric.

What is the solution physically? Imagine for a moment a school with many classrooms. Actually, instead, imagine a large office building in Johannesburg, filled not with students, but, instead, with tech savvy, multi-lingual, high school teachers spread over three floors. Then in a few other rooms you will find staff from the Department of Education, staff from a cell phone company, staff from a corporate company with invested interest in education…and then, on one other floor, a small army of tech nerds and a few interesting computers.

Bundle these people and skills together, we get something called Education Online.

Education Online App is a free downloadable mobile app available on your normal app stores, which uses no data from the validated users. This is so important because of the data costs in South Africa.

The app works on all android phones, and allows you to stream / share its services on other devices such as a desktop P.C.

Every validated user can apply for a sponsored device (cell phone) for free, subject to some reasonable terms from the participating cell phone company.

Education Online App allows any person (not limited to teens – even adults can use the app) to use the services… all you need is a valid South African ID to register for the service, and once confirmed, you have immediate access to all the learning material covering all of Grade 8-12 (specially prepared for the app,) + a remarkable virtual school library of books and downloadable tutorials.

The app also has a language converter, video archive of actual lessons made by real South African teachers, covering every course and subject, all presented in a virtual classroom.

There are online tests and even custom class tests available, which are prepared and marked by real teachers. While we are on the subject of tests, you might want to know how exams and passing grades work. To answer this, each user is able to write valid exams by using the app's scheduled tests program with participating schools. This means that participating schools have virtual learners / students as well as their normal ones.

Each semester, the school has test days, and the virtual learners can book real exams. That means, instead of having to attend school hundreds of days each year, they need to only pay less than R20, which saves a lot of travel costs.

The app does even more, though:

In South Africa, we have serious opportunities for entrepreneurs.

More so, we have a very poorly developed culture for internships. Internships are a fundamental stepping stone into the workplace.

Education Online App addresses the challenges of these two South African shortcomings head on by allowing corporates to register their businesses and post opportunities to the network of learners.

Optional extras include booking actual tutorials and purchasing actual books, just to name a few things.

Education Online App can reach more learners than any single high school – in fact, it will be able to accommodate every student in South Africa—and spending a fraction of the cost of a normal institution!

I spoke to a personal contact of mine who worked in education for a few decades. We also assessed some information on overall costs to run a school annually. The figures we got, using an annual cost for a school at R3.2 million, all costs inclusive, and a school that supports 240 learners, costs the system around R13 500 per year to educate 1 learner. In South Africa, we have about 24 000 schools. There is an average of 30 learners to 1 teacher. I need to make it very clear here, there is no equal substitute for the benefits of a real classroom. But, for those who don’t have access, or the ability to travel, there has to be other options. Education and access to information should be a world-wide basic human right, and in South Africa we have the Bill of Rights, which guarantees everyone the right to a basic education, including adult basic education.

Also, home-schooling has worked for hundreds of thousands of people… and Education Online App is basically home schooling using technology.

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

So how much less does it cost to put a learner through a full year's schooling using the app instead of a school?

I’ll get to that now.

Remember, before you can offer a reasonable comparison, you need to show the costs of running the app as well. And to be really accurate, you need to see what it costs to first build a school and set up the app.

In Africa, it costs around R150 000 to build a VERY basic school structure. Luthuli Primary School in Daveyton cost the Gauteng government R92.9 million to build.

Oprah Winfrey spent $40 million on her school in Africa, which is about R476 190 476.

If we create an average between these comparisons, a school costs around R190 million to build, but surely we can get by with half of that?

So, what does South Africa spend on all its education, running costs and building new schools? R213.7bn was spent on basic education in the 12 months ended March last year. There is an average increase of 7.4% annually. Roughly a 16 billion rand increase each year. With this increase, we can host the Fifa World Cup every second year…

Okay, so that’s the information on costs for schools, let’s get into apps. Development of Education Online App was not complex, actually. There are several educational apps already in place around the world. In South Africa, there is an abundance of educational apps available, especially for learning the K53. In terms of schooling, you have a choice of several free options, like Math Expert, WhizApp or even Khan Academy. None of the existing programs stand in the same league as Education Online App.

Set up

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

  • 3 years to create Education Online App.
  • Provision made for start-up of 50 000 learners.
  • 223 - 150 core staff.
  • 1800 online teachers.
  • 11 subjects – 90 lessons a year each. 5 years of lessons.


  • R900 000

Consultancy / project management and concept:

  • R4 320 000

Office set up and standard technical installations:

  • R11 250 000

Office rent:

  • R9 000 000

Specialist equipment:

  • R30 000 000

Salaries for staff during set up:

  • 3 Directors, R12 960 000.
  • 38 project managers, R47 880 000.
  • 22 technical support staff, R 19 800 000.
  • Content creation teams, per subject:
  • ** 4950 total lessons required. Reverse engineering over 3 year target: 1650 year = 8 250 days needed of man power, means you need 32 people working around the clock to achieve this. But you need more than 1 person per lesson. You need teacher, writer, someone to film, someone to edit, and the content binding and prep. This means at least 5 people x 32 - making the content creation team of 160 people for 3 years solid.
    R129 600 000

Catering and office supplies:

  • R3 000 000


  • R9 000 000

Technical operational running costs:

  • R54 000 000

Miscellaneous items and extras:

  • R20 000 000

Grand total of set up and operations = R R351 710 000.


Annual running costs:


  • R300 000

Consultancy / project management and concept:

  • R1 728 000

Office set up and standard technical upgrades:

  • R1 875 000

Office rent:

  • R3 600 000

Specialist equipment upgrades / maintenance:

  • R10 000 000

Salaries for staff during set up:

  • 3 Directors, R 5 184 000.
  • 19 project managers, R 9 576 000.
  • 22 technical support staff, R 7 920 000.
  • Contend creation teams, per subject:
    Provision to update 20 % of subject material every year.
    R 10 368 000.

Catering and office supplies:

  • R1 200 000


  • R3 600 000

Technical operational running costs:

  • R21 600 000

Miscellaneous items and extras:

  • R12 000 000

Travelling subsidy for students:

  • 8 exams x 4 per year at R100 per lesson = R3200 / learner
    R160 000 000

Device / cell phone:

  • R25 000 000


  • 10 gigs a month, (valued at around R400 / month)
    R240 000 000


  • Biggest cost of this project.
    30 learners / 1 student = 1700 teachers (90% work from home)
    R459 000 000

Therefore, annual running cost of R972 951 000.

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

That means, it costs R19 108,96 / year using the app to educate these learners.

BUT, when you have a cell phone company offering the data (R240 000 000) and cell phones (R25 000 000) and a corporate involved covering office rent and the core operational staff (36 648 000) – all for opportunity to brand the app and marketing – the cost per student / learner drops to R 13 076 per student. That is less than the cost to cover a student in an actual school – who still needs to pay for travel, books, uniforms and so much more.

In fact, even if you did not have a cell phone company and corporate paying towards the project out of their marketing budget each year, and the government paid for the entire app development and running costs for an entire decade, it would still cost less than a single year’s annual increase on the entire basic education budget per year!

Education Online App

Viable? Yes.

Logical? Yes.

Possible? Absolutely.

A South African first?

At the beginning of this article, I asked if this sounded too good to be true? Unfortunately… it is not true. While the scope and potential are there, getting government to sign on and support is a major hurdle for so many reasons. Without the support of government, a cell phone company and a corporate, Education Online App will not be created, and our people will be poorer for it.

Please feel free to put me in touch with anyone you think might help me make this concept a reality.

Published March 2018

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