Education in South Africa

Education in South Africa is compulsory for all children aged seven and upwards until they reach 15 years old or finish their 9th school year. As with most foreign countries the South African school system is composed of both private and public schools which vary in price and quality.

Unlike the UK where state schools are funded by the government and local authority’s schools in South Africa may require parents to pay a fee. The school system suffers from an abundance of overcrowding, poorly trained staff and a general lack of funds.

Private schools often provide a far better standard of education than state ones and this is the option that many expats choose to send their children too. Costs vary but as with most things the best schools will cost the most. The price range can vary from $1,500-$5,200 per year, boarding schools are often a lot more.

The three stages of education

There are three main stages of education:

General Education and Training, which covers compulsory education years (from grade 0 to grade 9). It also includes Adult Basic Education and Training.

Further Education and Training, which covers grade 10 to 12, including career-oriented education and training at technical-, community-, and private colleges. The qualifications recognised at this level are diplomas and certificates.

Higher Education and Training, which is also known as tertiary education. It covers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, certificates, diplomas, and doctoral degrees.

Typical School days and holidays

Students often attend school from Mondays to Fridays with classes taking place from 8am to after 2.30pm. After 2.30 pupils can take part in extracurricular activities or visit the local youth centres.

South African academic year is from January to December. It is split up into four terms:

The first term begins on mid – January and ends in April. It is followed by Easter Holidays, which last 10 days.

The second term is from mid – April to June. It is followed by the Winter Holidays, that last 21 days.

The third term begins in mid – July and ends in September. Spring Holidays follow it, and last 10 days.

The fourth term is from October to December. Christmas Holidays are 40 days long.