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South Africa
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South Africa
Overview of the education system (EAG 2021)
  • In South Africa, 17% of 25-34 year-old women had a tertiary qualification in 2020 compared to 13% of their male peers.
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    The following list displays indicators for which your selected country shows the highest and lowest values among countries. The list can be sorted by level of education or by age group. All rankings are calculated including available data from OECD and partner countries. Find out more about the methodology here.

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    Attainment

    The level of below upper secondary attainment among 25-34 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (45.9 %, rank 4/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The level of tertiary attainment among 25-64 year-olds is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (15.8 %, rank 43/46 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The level of tertiary attainment among 25-34 year-olds is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (14.9 %, rank 45/45 , 2020) Download Indicator

    South Africa has one of the lowest percentages of 25-64 year-olds whose highest education level is a master's or equivalent tertiary education degree. (0.9 %, rank 40/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Attainment by gender

    The proportion of 25-34 year-old men who have attained tertiary education is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (12.8 %, rank 45/45 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The proportion of 25-34 year-old women who have attained tertiary education is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (17 %, rank 45/45 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The share of 25-34 year-old men who attained below upper secondary education in South Africa is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (48.1 %, rank 4/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The share of 25-34 year-old women who attained below upper secondary education in South Africa is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (43.6 %, rank 5/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Participation in education

    The enrolment rate of 6-14 year-olds in South Africa is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (86.9 %, rank 44/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The proportion of upper secondary students enrolled in vocational programmes is one of the smallest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (12.2 %, rank 40/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of 25-29 year-olds in South Africa is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (7 %, rank 38/42 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of upper secondary 15-19-year-old students enrolled in vocational programmes is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (2.5 %, rank 40/42 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation by gender

    The share of female graduates from upper secondary general programmes is one of the largest among OECD countries and partner economies with available data. (55.8 %, rank 1/42 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Among OECD and partner countries with available data, South Africa has one of the largest shares of women graduates from tertiary programmes. (62.2 %, rank 5/36 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the share of female tertiary graduates in the field of social sciences, journalism and information is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (17.8 %, rank 4/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of male tertiary graduates in the field of education is relatively high in South Africa. (12.4 %, rank 3/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the proportion of male tertiary graduates in the field of social sciences, journalism and information is relatively large. (13.2 %, rank 4/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the share of male tertiary graduates in the field of business, administration and law is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (34.9 %, rank 5/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of male tertiary graduates in the field of health and welfare is relatively low in South Africa. (4.1 %, rank 39/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Graduation by field of education

    The proportion of female tertiary graduates in health and welfare is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries. (7.4 %, rank 40/43 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of engineering, manufacturing and construction is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (8 %, rank 40/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of health and welfare is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (6.1 %, rank 41/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The percentage of tertiary graduates in the field of services is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.5 %, rank 41/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    The share of doctoral graduates in the field of business, administration and law in South Africa is relatively large. (17.4 %, rank 2/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Student mobility

    The percentage of national tertiary students enrolled abroad in South Africa is relatively low. (0.7 %, rank 40/44 , 2019) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, international or foreign students from Africa are highest represented among all international or foreign students, compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (83.6 %, rank 3/75 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Expenditure per student

    At primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary level, the public expenditure on public educational institutions per full-time equivalent student is comparatively low in South Africa. (2549 USD Equivalent, rank 38/38 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Public and private expenditure in education

    In South Africa, total public expenditure on primary through tertiary educational institutions as a percentage of total public expenditure is comparatively high. (15.3 %, rank 2/41 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Total public expenditure on education as a percentage of total government expenditure, for primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively high in South Africa compared to OECD and partner countries with available data. (12.6 %, rank 1/41 , 2018) Download Indicator

    Ratio of student to teaching staff

    In South Africa, the number of students per teacher in private upper secondary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (32.7 Ratio, rank 1/40 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Employment and educational attainment

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education is comparatively low. (72.7 %, rank 44/45 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds without upper secondary education is comparatively low. (40.1 %, rank 43/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively low. (52.6 %, rank 44/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a short-cycle tertiary education degree is low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (67.5 %, rank 35/38 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with below upper secondary education is compartively low in South Africa. (34.1 %, rank 43/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with tertiary education is compartively low in South Africa. (63.2 %, rank 43/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is compartively low in South Africa. (44.6 %, rank 43/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with a general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (44.6 %, rank 40/40 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with a short-cycle tertiary education is comparatively low. (56 %, rank 33/33 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (52.6 %, rank 40/40 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 35-44 year-olds with a general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (59.1 %, rank 40/40 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 45-54 year-olds with a general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (63.5 %, rank 38/39 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 35-44 year-olds without upper secondary education is comparatively low. (47.6 %, rank 42/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 45-54 year-olds without upper secondary education is comparatively low. (47.6 %, rank 42/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 35-44 year-olds with tertiary education is comparatively low. (77.9 %, rank 41/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 35-44 year-olds with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively low. (59.1 %, rank 43/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 45-54 year-olds with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is comparatively low. (63.5 %, rank 42/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 35-44 year-olds with a short-cycle tertiary education is comparatively low. (74.1 %, rank 33/34 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Employment by gender and educational attainment

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-old men with below upper secondary education is compartively low in South Africa. (41.3 %, rank 43/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-old men with tertiary education is compartively low in South Africa. (66.5 %, rank 44/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-old men with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is compartively low in South Africa. (50.6 %, rank 43/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-old women with below upper secondary education is compartively low in South Africa. (25.9 %, rank 39/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-old women with tertiary education is compartively low in South Africa. (60.6 %, rank 43/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-old women with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is compartively low in South Africa. (38.4 %, rank 41/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Unemployment and educational attainment

    The unemployment rate among 25-34 year-olds with below upper secondary education is comparatively high. (44.4 %, rank 1/42 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-34 year-olds with tertiary education is comparatively high. (23.6 %, rank 1/44 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-34 year-olds with a general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is one of the highest of all OECD countries and partner economies for which data are available. (35 %, rank 1/38 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the inactivity rate of 25-34 year-olds with general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is relatively high. (31.3 %, rank 4/39 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Neither in education nor employed

    The proportion of youth neither employed nor in education or training among 15-29 year-olds in South Africa is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (40.9 %, rank 1/40 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Among 15-29 year-olds, the share of youth without an upper secondary degree who are neither employed nor in education or training in South Africa is relatively high. (36.1 %, rank 1/39 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the proportion of young men who are neither employed nor in education or training among 15-19 year-olds is comparatively large. (12.8 %, rank 4/38 , 2020) Download Indicator


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    General findings
    
                            
    • One in five adults across the OECD has not attained upper secondary education.
    • In 2020, the unemployment rate of adults that had not completed upper secondary education was almost twice as high as those with higher qualifications, and 27% of these adults earn only at or below half the median on average across OECD countries.
    • In 2019, at least 10% of school-aged youth were not in school in about a quarter of OECD countries.
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    • In 2019, women made up 55% of new entrants to tertiary education on average. If current patterns continue, it is expected that 46% of young women will graduate with a tertiary degree for the first time before they turn 30, 15 percentage points more than men.
    • Women also earn on average about 76-78% of men’s salaries regardless of educational attainment, although the gender gap narrowed by 2 percentage points between 2013 and 2019.
    • Women are less likely than men to enter a STEM field of study, and the average share remained generally stable between 2013 and 2019.
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    • On average across countries, expenditure on educational institutions amounted to approximately USD 9 300 per student at pre-primary level; USD 10 500 at primary, secondary and post-secondary non tertiary level; and USD 17 100 at tertiary level.
    • The public sector funds 90% of total expenditure on primary and secondary institutions on average, often compulsory in most OECD countries, compared to 83% at pre-primary level and 66% at tertiary level.
    • In 2018, the OECD countries spent on average 4.9% of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on primary to tertiary educational institutions.
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    • In 2019, less than 5% of pre-primary teachers were men, compared to 18% at primary level, 40% at upper secondary level and more than 50% at tertiary level on average.
    • Between 2005 and 2020, on average across OECD countries and economies with available data for all reference years, the statutory salaries of teachers with 15 years of experience and the most prevalent qualifications increased by 3% at primary level, 4% at lower secondary level (general programmes) and 2% at upper secondary level (general programmes).
    • In most countries, teachers above 50 years of age make up more than a third of the teaching force.
    • Attracting male teachers to the profession can be difficult: While the average actual salary of female teachers is equal to or higher than the average salary of other full-time, tertiary-educated women, primary and secondary male teachers earn between 76% and 85% of the average earnings of other full-time, tertiary-educated men.
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    • On average across OECD countries, 87% of children aged 3-5 are enrolled in education on average across OECD countries compared to 25% for children below the age of 3.
    • There are 15 children for every teacher at pre-primary level on average across OECD countries.
    • Half of children enrolled in early childhood development services and a two-thirds of pre-primary children attend public institutions on average across OECD countries
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    Key
    Diagram of funding flows - South Africa

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    Key
    Country Reviews for South Africa

    Note: These values should be interpreted with care since they are influenced by countries' specific contexts and trade-offs. In education, there is often no simple most- or least-efficient model. For instance, the share of private expenditure in education must be read against other measures designed to mitigate inequities, such as loans and grants; longer learning time is an opportunity to convey more and better content to students, but may hinder investments in other important areas. If you want further information on the nature of different variables, please take the time to read the analysis and contextual information, available at the website for each publication.
    All rankings for individual variables are compiled on the basis of OECD and G20 countries for which data are available. The OECD average includes only OECD countries which are listed here: http://www.oecd.org/about/membersandpartners/

    *TALIS averages are based on all countries participating in the TALIS survey, including partner countries and economies. This explains the difference between the OECD average and the TALIS averages. Data from the TALIS survey and Education at a Glance (EAG) may differ. See Annex E of the TALIS technical report and Annex 3 of EAG 2021 for more details about the data collections.

    B-S-J-Z (China) refers to the four PISA-participating provinces/municipalities of the People's Republic of China: Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

    For additional notes, please refer to annexes in the list of links below the introductory country profile text.