The Bill of Rights in South Africa’s constitution states that it is compulsory for all the children of South Africa to attend school and receive an education. South Africa is currently trying its best to provide free or subsidised education to all children of South Africa.

South Africa’s education systems has three different bands. The first being the General Education and Training (GET) phase, second band is the Further Education and Training (FET), while the third and last band is the HET band, Higher Education and Training.

  • The GET band runs from Grade 0 (or Grade R) to Grade 9 in public and private schools.
  • The FET band runs from Grade 10 to Grade 12 in public and private schools as well as in tertiary colleges. It includes career-orientated education and training.
  • Tertiary colleges include technical, private and community colleges.
  • The HET band is recognized in universities throughout South Africa and is the highest recognized qualification.

Each province in South Africa has its own department of education. These departments are responsible for ensuring the quality of education is up to standard in each of the public schools across the province. They also have to make sure that inspections are conducted and nothing unconventional is occurring at the schools. Good foundations in literacy and numeracy in primary school leads to an incline in pass rates in matric, therefore each education department strives to offer high quality schooling. Their mission is to build up individuals who are able to strive in a working world and provide adequately, if not better, for themselves.

Waiting Lists

Anyone with a young child should start preparing early for admitting them to school, whether it be private or public. With the population in the urban areas increasing, schools are being filled extremely quickly, resulting in children being put on to waiting lists, even if they live in that district. High schools are faced with the same problems. For primary schools and Grade R, it is best to apply a year or two in advance. If you want your child to attend a high school other than the district public school, such as boarding school or a private school, it is best to apply at least two years beforehand. If you waited too long to admit your child and you are put on a waiting list, find an alternative until you are admitted into your chosen school. Alternatives include: home schooling, a school with space in another district or a private school.


NSC is the National Senior Certificate which is offered by all public schools in South Africa. IEB (International Examinations Board) is the preferred curriculum for private schools. The IEB is seen as a more comprehensive curriculum and is said to be more beneficial for students as it challenges them more, some say that the IEB curriculum is harder than the NSC. However, universities throughout South Africa do not differentiate between the results of IEB and NSC students. The APS score works the same for both curriculums. IEB may help students cope better in university as the jump in difficulty level may not be the same. Schools that offer IEB have much higher tuition fees and the majority of citizens in South Africa can not afford it. This does not mean that your child will be at a disadvantage and will struggle at university, as the majority of students in South Africa went to a NSC school and have obtained their degrees, there is no reason to be distressed if you cannot afford the high IEB tuition fees.

Pass rates

To pass a term in NSC schools, the following results are needed:

Grade 8 and 9:

  • English 50%
  • Afrikaans 40%
  • Mathematics 40%
  • Any other 3 subjects 40%
  • Any other 2 subjects 30%

Grade 10 to 12:

  • English 40%
  • Any 2 subjects 40%
  • Any 3 subjects 30%


  • 40% or more in at least 3 subjects (including one home language)
  • 30% or more in at least 3 other subjects