The op­po­si­tion speaks

CityPress - - Business -

Chris van der Merwe, the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ad­vtech’s more pop­u­lar com­peti­tor Curro, is aware of, but not con­cerned about, Maas­dorp’s in­ten­tion to ac­cel­er­ate growth.

Van der Merwe says 12.4 mil­lion chil­dren at­tend South Africa’s state, pri­vate and church schools. If Curro lives up to its prom­ise to build 80 schools by 2020, it will ac­com­mo­date just 0.79% of school­child­ren, as­sum­ing their num­ber re­mains the same.

There is more than enough space for every­one, he says – the pri­vate-school mar­ket is not big enough.

Van der Merwe knows out­go­ing CEO Frank Thomp­son and says he has cre­ated a sta­ble group. “Although peo­ple crit­i­cise it for its slow growth, I think it is a great com­pany with lovely schools.”

He does not know Maas­dorp per­son­ally but says Ad­vtech was right to ap­point some­one who is not an out­sider. The sec­tor is so new there are not many peo­ple who un­der­stand “it ain’t that easy to build a few schools”. The person needs to un­der­stand ev­ery­thing from con­struc­tion to cur­ricu­lums and reg­u­la­tions. Maas­dorp, he be­lieves, is in a good po­si­tion to do so.

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