Explore the OECD's reports or draw from a wide variety of education indicators and data to construct your own, customised country reports, highlighting the facts, developments and outcomes of your choice.

Country

South Africa
Change country

Data profiles:



South Africa
Overview of the education system (EAG 2022)
  • In South Africa, 15% of 25-34 year-olds had a tertiary qualification in 2020 compared to 47% on average across OECD countries.
  • In 2020, 10% of 3-5 year-olds in South Africa were enrolled in early childhood education programmes education in South Africa, compared to 83% on average across OECD countries. The share of children enrolled in private institutions at pre-primary level was 6%.
  • Profile View

    Select first some countries to compare, choose the charts you wish to display and customise them.

    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.

    Show indicators for which your country ranks among the top or bottom: Sort by:

    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 2/42 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The level of below upper secondary attainment among 25-64 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (52.3 %, rank 7/43 , 2021) 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 42/44 , 2021) 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 43/43 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The level of tertiary attainment among 55-64 year-olds is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (14.6 %, rank 39/43 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the percentage of 25-64 year-olds who attained a bachelor's or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the lowest among countries with available data. (7 %, rank 39/44 , 2021) 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 39/40 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The level of below upper secondary attainment among 55-64 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (68.6 %, rank 4/42 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The level of upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education attainment among 55-64 year-olds is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (16.8 %, rank 37/42 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the share of 25-34 year-olds who attained a bachelor's or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the lowest among countries with available data. (6.5 %, rank 43/43 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the share of 25-34 year-olds who attained a master's or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the lowest among countries with available data. (0.6 %, rank 39/39 , 2021) 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 43/43 , 2021) 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 43/43 , 2021) 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 3/42 , 2021) 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 3/42 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The share of 25-64 year-old women who attained upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education in South Africa is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (60.6 %, rank 41/43 , 2021) 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. (87.4 %, rank 43/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate among 15-19 year-olds in South Africa is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (77.3 %, rank 33/41 , 2020) 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. (11.9 %, rank 38/42 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The percentage of students in public tertiary educational institutions is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (91.7 %, rank 9/42 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of 20-24 year-olds in South Africa is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (29.6 %, rank 35/41 , 2020) 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 39/42 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of 30-39 year-olds in South Africa is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.9 %, rank 35/40 , 2020) 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 38/41 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of students aged 17 in vocational upper secondary programmes in South Africa is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (0.2 %, rank 38/38 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of students aged 18 in general upper secondary programmes in South Africa is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (56.9 %, rank 7/42 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of students aged 18 in vocational upper secondary programmes in South Africa is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (1.4 %, rank 35/38 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of students aged 19 in general upper secondary programmes in South Africa is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (38.5 %, rank 2/42 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of students aged 19 in vocational upper secondary programmes in South Africa is one of the lowest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (3.8 %, rank 29/38 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of students aged 20 in general upper secondary programmes in South Africa is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (24.4 %, rank 1/41 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The enrolment rate of students aged 20 in post-secondary non-tertiary programmes in South Africa is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (4.5 %, rank 8/29 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the percentage of students enrolled in private institutions at pre-primary level is comparatively low. (6 %, rank 39/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Student mobility

    In South Africa, international or foreign students from Asia are least represented among all international or foreign students, compared to other OECD and partner countries with available data. (3.2 %, rank 66/74 , 2020) 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 %, rank 3/74 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the share of international or foreign students enrolled in tertiary education among women is relatively low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (2.6 %, rank 36/43 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Expenditure in education and national wealth

    In South Africa, public expenditure on educational institutions as a percentage of GDP on primary to tertiary education from final source of funds is relatively high. (6.2 %, rank 2/40 , 2019) 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. (16.9 %, rank 2/42 , 2019) Download Indicator

    Ratio of student to teaching staff

    The number of students per teacher in secondary schools is one of the largest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (25.1 Ratio, rank 4/38 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the number of students per teacher in public lower secondary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (28.2 Ratio, rank 3/40 , 2020) Download Indicator

    The ratio of students to teaching staff at the lower secondary level in private institutions is especially high in South Africa. (15.8 Ratio, rank 10/39 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the number of students per teacher in all public secondary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (25.9 Ratio, rank 3/40 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the number of students per teacher in all private secondary education is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (15.1 Ratio, rank 10/37 , 2020) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the number of students per teacher in public institutions tertiary education is one of the highest among countries with available data. (16.8 Ratio, rank 10/35 , 2020) Download Indicator

    Employment and educational attainment

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds without upper secondary education is comparatively low. (40.1 %, rank 41/42 , 2021) 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 42/42 , 2021) 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 35/36 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a bachelor's or equivalent tertiary education degree is low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (77 %, rank 37/43 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-64 year-olds with a master's or equivalent tertiary education degree is low compared to other OECD and partner countries. (84.3 %, rank 34/39 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with below upper secondary education is compartively low in South Africa. (34.1 %, rank 41/42 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with tertiary education is compartively low in South Africa. (63.2 %, rank 42/43 , 2021) 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 42/42 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-olds with a short-cycle tertiary education is comparatively low. (56 %, rank 32/32 , 2021) Download Indicator

    Compared to other countries with available data, the employment rate of 25-34 year-olds with a bachelor's or equivalent tertiary education degree is relatively low in South Africa. (70.5 %, rank 39/43 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the inactivity rate of 25-64 year-olds with below upper secondary education is one of the highest among countries with available data. (41.3 %, rank 9/42 , 2021) Download Indicator

    Compared to other countries with available data, the employment rate of 25-34 year-old with a master's or equivalent tertiary education degree is relatively low in South Africa. (76.6 %, rank 35/38 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the inactivity rate of 25-34 year-olds with a master's or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the highest among countries with available data. (14.1 %, rank 5/38 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the inactivity rate of 25-64 year-olds with a master's or equivalent tertiary education degree is one of the highest among countries with available data. (11.9 %, rank 5/39 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the inactivity rate of 25-34 year-olds with a short cycle tertiary education degree is one of the highest among countries with available data. (20.3 %, rank 4/28 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the inactivity rate of 25-64 year-olds with a short cycle tertiary education degree is one of the highest among countries with available data. (18.6 %, rank 9/35 , 2021) Download Indicator

    Compared to other countries with available data, the employment rate of 25-34 year-olds with tertiary education is relatively low in South Africa. (72.7 %, rank 41/43 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the inactivity rate of 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education is one of the highest among countries with available data. (16.4 %, rank 6/43 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the inactivity rate of 25-64 year-olds with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education is one of the highest among countries with available data. (28.6 %, rank 3/42 , 2021) 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 41/42 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The employment rate among 25-34 year-old men with tertiary education is compartively low in South Africa. (66.5 %, rank 43/43 , 2021) 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 42/42 , 2021) 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 38/41 , 2021) 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 40/42 , 2021) 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 1/41 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-34 year-olds with tertiary education is comparatively high. (23.6 %, rank 1/43 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds without upper secondary education is comparatively high. (31.8 %, rank 2/42 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The unemployment rate among 25-64 year-olds with tertiary education is comparatively high. (13 %, rank 1/43 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The inactivity rate of 25-34 years-old adults with below upper secondary education is high in South Africa. (38.6 %, rank 9/41 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The inactivity rate of 25-34 years-old adults with tertiary education is high in South Africa. (17.3 %, rank 6/43 , 2021) Download Indicator

    Compared to other countries with available data, the unemployment rate of 25-34 year-olds with a bachelor's or equivalent tertiary education degree is relatively high in South Africa. (18.1 %, rank 2/41 , 2021) Download Indicator

    Compared to other countries with available data, the unemployment rate of 25-34 year-old with a master's or equivalent tertiary education degree is relatively high in South Africa. (10.9 %, rank 4/37 , 2021) Download Indicator

    Compared to other countries with available data, the unemployment rate of 25-34 year-old with a short cycle tertiary education degree is relatively high in South Africa. (29.7 %, rank 1/28 , 2021) Download Indicator

    Neither in education nor employed

    The share of inactive youth neither in formal education nor training among 18-24 year-olds in South Africa is one of the highest among countries with available data. (26.2 %, rank 1/37 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The share of unemployed youth neither in formal education nor training among 18-24 year-olds in South Africa is one of the highest among countries with available data. (20 %, rank 1/37 , 2021) Download Indicator

    The share of youth neither employed nor in education or training among 25-29 year-olds in South Africa is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. (60.3 %, rank 1/38 , 2021) Download Indicator

    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. (42.2 %, rank 1/39 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the share of men neither employed nor in education among 15-29 year-olds is relatively high. (39.7 %, rank 1/38 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the share of women neither employed nor in education among 15-29 year-olds is relatively high. (44.9 %, rank 1/39 , 2021) Download Indicator

    Among 20-24 year-olds men in South Africa, a large share of them are neither employed nor in education or training. (50.4 %, rank 1/37 , 2021) Download Indicator

    In South Africa, the percentage of women neither employed nor in education or training among 20-24 year-olds is relatively high . (57.2 %, rank 1/37 , 2021) Download Indicator


    The data table will display up to six selected countries.
    General findings
    
                            
    • Tertiary attainment has increased strongly in most OECD countries among 25-34 year olds. The average share of younger adults with a tertiary degree has increased from 27% in 2000 to 48% in 2021.
    • Higher educational attainment leads to better labour-market outcomes including higher wages and higher employment rates.
    • Expenditure on tertiary education accounts for 1.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) on average across OECD countries or 30% of all education funding allocated to educational institutions.
    Visualisations
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    
                            
    • Tertiary attainment has increased strongly in most OECD countries among 25-34 year-olds. The average share of younger adults with a tertiary degree has increased from 27% in 2000 to 48% in 2021. In this age group, the share of individuals with tertiary attainment is 7 percentage points higher than the share of individuals with upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary attainment on average across OECD countries. If current trends continue, a tertiary education will be the most common attainment among working-age adults on average across OECD countries within a few years.
    • Higher educational attainment leads to better labour-market outcomes. In 2021, on average, employment rates for tertiary-educated young adults (25-34 year-olds) are 8 percentage points higher than those who have attained upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary education and 26 percentage points higher than those who have attained below upper secondary education across OECD countries.
    • Greater educational attainment yields better earnings and this holds true for higher levels of tertiary attainment in most countries. On average across the OECD, full-time full-year workers who attained short-cycle tertiary education earned 20% more than those with upper secondary attainment in 2020. This earnings advantage increases to 44% among those who attained a bachelor's or equivalent qualification and to 88% among those with a master's or doctoral or equivalent degree.
    Visualisations
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    
                            
    • On average, the vast majority (88%) of children between the age of 3 and 5 are enrolled in early childhood education (ECE) across the OECD. In a few countries, it is also common for younger children between the age of 0 and 2 to participate in ECE and over 50% of children in this age group are enrolled. However, only 27% of under-threes are enrolled in ECE on average across the OECD.
    • In almost all countries with available data, the majority of upper secondary graduates from general programmes are women. Men dominate graduation from vocational programmes in almost three-quarters of the countries.
    • While the average age of first-time graduates from general upper secondary education does not differ much across countries, the difference widens in vocational education, ranging from 16 to 34 years.
    • Around one-fifth of tertiary students are enrolled on a part-time basis, but large differences exist across OECD countries. Studying part-time is especially common in many Nordic countries, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, where more than 30% of students study part-time. However, in some countries like the Czech Republic, and Greece, less than 5% of students study part-time.
    • Students are more likely to cross borders to pursue their studies as they reach more advanced levels of education. Internationally mobile students account for only 7% of bachelor's students, but 17% of master's students and 26% of doctoral students on average in OECD countries.
    Visualisations
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    
                            
    • Total public spending on education (from primary to tertiary level) averages 10.6% of total government expenditure across OECD countries, from around 7% to 17%. The largest share of government funding is devoted to primary and secondary levels, explained by near-universal enrolment rates at those levels of education and the greater contribution of private sources at tertiary level.
    • On average across OECD countries, expenditure on primary education amounts to 30% of the funding for educational institutions, while secondary education accounts for 39%.
    • In 2019, OECD countries spent an average of USD 17 559 per student per year at the tertiary level. However, this average is driven up by high values in a few countries, reaching over USD 25 000 in Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
    • On average across OECD countries, 63% of total expenditure on tertiary educational institutions goes to core services (e.g. teachers' salaries, school buildings, teaching materials and administration), 33% on research and development activities, and 4% on ancillary services (e.g. meals and transport).
    • Expenditure on tertiary education accounts for 1.5% of gross domestic product (GDP) on average across OECD countries or 30% of all education funding allocated to educational institutions.
    • On average across OECD countries, public funds account for 83% of total spending on educational institutions. Private sources are more important at the tertiary level, where they make up 31% of all expenditure compared to just 10% at the non-tertiary levels (primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary).
    Visualisations
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    
                            
    • Teachers' actual salaries at pre-primary, primary and general secondary level are 4-14% lower than the earnings of tertiary-educated workers on average across OECD countries and other participants. School heads' actual salaries are substantially higher than those of teachers across primary and secondary education.
    • Teachers in public schools in OECD and partner countries are required to teach on average 987 hours per year at pre-primary level, 784 hours at primary level, 711 hours at lower secondary level (general programmes) and 684 hours at upper secondary level (general and vocational programmes).
    • Typically, the duration of initial teacher education programmes varies from 3 years to 6.5 years, for prospective lower secondary teachers of general subjects. A tertiary qualification is awarded upon completion of the programme in most countries, regardless of the level of education at which the teacher will teach.
    • Continuing professional development is compulsory to some extent for teachers of general subjects at least at one level of education in most countries with data, except Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands and New Zealand. It can be either generally compulsory for all teachers as a regular part of their work, or for some teachers for specific purposes such as promotion or salary increases, or in some cases, both.
    Visualisations
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    Click the arrow sign next to the title: arrows to display other variables
    Key
    Diagram of funding flows - South Africa

    Click on the coverpage to see the full OECD iLibrary version
    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.