How To Get a Proper South African Education: A Guide for Locals


Organizations across South Africa recognize that education is one of the most important drivers for social change. The higher the level of education, the better likelihood of living a good life.

But many people don’t know the best way to get a good education in South Africa. The system can be a little confusing, especially if you’re an expat. Even residents are sometimes unsure of their options.

Let us take you to school! Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about getting a solid South African education.

The Basics


Children in South Africa are expected to gain a primary, middle, and secondary education at a minimum. Education in the South African school system is mandatory from the age of seven to 15. But most people get some education outside of these mandatory years too.

All South African schools charge enrollment fees. However, South African private schools tend to charge as much as three to 10 times the fees of state schools. If you think the fees at a given school are too high, shop around and see if you can find something more reasonable.

If you grew up and were educated elsewhere, you will likely be able to use your existing certificates to get into a South African college or university. Some of these establishments may require your documents to be verified, which might involve a small fee.

If you failed to get your basic educational certificates, all is not lost. Many colleges offer adults the chance to study for their basic certificates and take the necessary exams. If your education didn’t go the way you planned during your younger years, now is the time to get back on track.


Early years education can help children to get a good start in life. The first years of a child’s life are vital to their brain development. Spending time in a preschool or kindergarten provides advantages that can last a lifetime!

Accordingly, there are lots of great preschools in South Africa. Most of these establishments can care for children from the age of one to six. They should have a solid lesson plan and qualified staff to help give your child the best preparation possible.

International Schools

South Africa has more than 50 international schools. These schools are generally regarded as some of the highest-quality educational establishments in the country.

If you are an expat, you may choose to send your child to one of these establishments. This is a great way to ensure they get a high-quality education. Many of these international schools offer specialist lessons and language services too.

Higher Education

Quality higher education is available throughout South Africa. The country has some of the oldest and highest-ranked universities in sub-Saharan Africa.

A degree is necessary in South Africa for finding a professional position. If you want to work in a field like finance, technology, or the medical field, you will need to attend university. Just like in other countries, you can start with a bachelor’s degree before moving on to post-graduate qualifications.

Some of the best universities in South Africa include:

  • The University of Cape Town, well-known for good facilities
  • The University of Pretoria, offering specialist technological courses
  • Stellenbosch University, with a range of high-quality courses
  • North-West University, a modern university with three campuses

Many of these universities have entry exams. Contact them individually to find out about their specific requirements for exams.

Others will accept students based on their elementary and high school education. Generally, you will need a Senior Certificate with Matriculation Endorsement to attend university in the country. Alternatively, you could get an exemption certificate if you have a Cambridge International AS or A Level qualification.

Online Courses

Online training can also be useful, especially for those who may have limited access to physical establishments. After all, South Africa is a huge country and many areas lack transport links. Websites like can help you to find online courses.

Learning remotely became more popular throughout the COVID pandemic. It remains an important way for many people to learn. Lots of courses are run by qualified professionals and you should have contact with trained tutors by phone, email, or live chat.

Vocational Training

Vocational training is becoming increasingly popular in South Africa. Often used as a way to fight unemployment, it can provide people with much-needed skills to make a good living.

Common forms of vocational training include:

  • Plumbing
  • Building
  • Electrical skills
  • Animal care
  • Agricultural work

Many of these trades are in high demand and offer good pay and opportunities for advancement. Look around and you should be able to find a field that is appealing to you.

If you want to undertake vocational training, your provider may require you to have a basic level of education. A high school certificate will help you to get a good foundation of skills that will help you in your future career.

Good courses should teach you the theory behind your chosen subject as well as provide you with practical skills. Many training providers offer vocational certificates that are equivalent to a grade 10-12 education.

Do Your Research on South African Education

No matter what kind of education you’re looking for, it’s a good idea to do as much research as possible. Try to find out more about each individual institution or course. Learn about the staff and facilities you’ll have access to and be sure to ask lots of questions.

We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about gaining a South African education. If you’re looking for more of the same, it isn’t far away. Check out our education section for more articles in the same vein.