A recent article in Money magazine supported a long-held theory of mine. Six of Australia’s top financial industry experts were asked about their biggest financial regrets; pension contributions or lack thereof, property investment and travel made the list as expected. It was, however, Marcus Padley, a highly respected author and stockbroker’s reply that really caught my attention.
I went to school in South Africa, a country where a large contingency of children for various reasons do not have the opportunity to go to school. When I attended school there back in the 90’s, the schooling system had a few clear differentiators to schooling in Australia. Public schools are not fully government funded and do attract high fees for most pupils, they are also much more disciplined, students present very polished and a very rigid pass grade was enforced. This rigour resulted in many students repeating or even failing school, exams taken very seriously and passing grades well above world education standards at the time.
In direct contrast, we had fewer private schools, school fees slightly higher than public schools, but in these were much less disciplined than the public system. Student dress code, appearance, and general discipline were much less groomed and very relaxed generally.
I was raised in a very affluent area of South Africa, but I never recall the level of haughty or pretentious banter around which school you attended as I have seen here in Australia. I think children in Australia are very blessed to be products of this lucky country, but that does seem to lessen what should be a profound sense of gratitude for growing up in such a peaceful affluent society, to an attitude of entitlement sadly.
This brings me to my actual point; now please understand that I am completely in support and favour of catering for special needs or talents via specific schools. As a parent myself, I appreciate and know that part of being a parent is to put your child’s needs first as much as reasonably possible. That though is my point, instead of investing around $200,000 into a twelve-year private school education, we have state schooling on par with private school education and curriculums. I can invest the same financial contribution into a trust fund for my child to use to kick off investments or business opportunities once they finished their state school education, that amount of money capitalised with interest over 13 years will be substantial!
And, Marcus echoed my feelings exactly, he said his biggest financial regret was to wonder if the money he spent on private education could have been better spent expanding his children’s minds outside the schooling system.