Education System In South African

The education system in South Africa is managed and administered by the National Department of Education. 

National Qualification Framework (NQF)

The National Qualification Framework (NQF) is a framework that lays down the guidelines, criteria and conditions for Educational Institutions and their programmes. 

Education System In South African
Education System In South African

 Level 1: General Education and Training corresponds to this level. It comprises a compulsory education phase, grades 0-9, or non-formal education-Adult, Basic Education and Training.

 Level 2, 3, 4: This level comprises of senior secondary school phase that runs from grades 10-12, or general/career-specific programmes provided at community, technical or private colleges, or programmes provided at the workplace or regional training centres.

 Level 5, 6, 7, and 8: This level comprises higher education degrees and diplomas obtained from Universities, public and private professional colleges and institutes, and Universities of Technology.

Profile Of the Education System In South African

Pre-Primary Education

Public pre-primary/preschool education is provided by a few of the provincial education departments. Preschool is split up into two grades-

  •  Pre-Grade R: This grade is for kids up to the age of 4 years
  • Grade R: This grade is for kids up to the age of 5-6 years 

Areas of Study: Language and life skills, arts, and mathematics.

Bands of Education

Education in South Africa is split into three strata-

  • General Education and Training
  • Further Education and Training
  • Higher Education and Training, or Tertiary Education

Educational qualifications in South Africa are structured within the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and the Higher Education Qualifications Framework (HEQF).

General Education and Training

According to the South African Schools Act of 1996, all children from ages 7 until 15 are required to have an education. General Education and Training also includes Adult Basic Education and Training (ABET), accessible and available to adults who wish to complete their fundamental education. 

  • Grades: 0 to 9
  • Credential: General Education and Training Certificate

The General Education and Training corresponds to Level 1 of the National Qualification and comprises three phases-

  • Foundation Phase: Also called Junior Primary and runs from Grade R/1 to 3
  • Intermediate Phase: Runs from Grades 4 to 6
  • Senior Phase: Runs from Grades 7 to 9

Further Education and Training

This level of education corresponds to Levels 2-4 of the National Qualification Framework (NQF) and is not compulsory. The FET leads to a Senior Certificate, and students get career-oriented and practical education and training.

  • Areas of Study: Language, Mathematics, Technology, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Economics and Management Science, Life Orientation, and Arts and Culture. 
  • Grades: 10-12
  • Credential: Senior Certificate

Higher Education and Training

Higher Education or Tertiary Education corresponds to Levels 5-8 of the National Qualification Framework (NQF). Higher Education or Tertiary Education in South Africa covers undergraduate and postgraduate courses of study. There are 24 public universities in South Africa, and these are split into:

  • Comprehensive Universities
  • Traditional Universities
  • Technikons, or Universities of Technology

The Higher Education Institutions in South Africa provide Bachelor’s, Honors, Master’s and Doctorate Degrees. 

Education System: At a Glance

  Education Bands/Types  Grades/Qualifications

 Primary School Grade R-Grade 6

 Secondary Level Grade 7- Grade 9

 Further Education and Training Grade 10- Grade 12 (Matriculation)

 Higher Education and Training Certificate & Diploma (1-2 years), Bachelor’s degree (3-6 years),

Honours (One additional year plus bachelor studies),

Master (2 years), and Doctorate (2 years)

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