South African Education Scene 2

Having taught in government schools as well as having been involved with training in the adult sector, I must make this comment regarding SA education – where SA degrees and other qualifications were once sought after around the world, the question I get asked is as follows when applying for work ovreseas – before or after 1994?


I have been on this website for some time and although I have not contributed much since leaving SA, I have this to say on observing the comments and posts – SA Education is in a shambles. Quite honestly the bodies that run the so coalled SETAs are mostly inept at going about there business.


I have looked at the systems overseas and they seem to be running smoothly whereas in SA you never know what or which qualification is going to change and when. I have a Higher Diploma in Education and various other qualifications that I have obtained whilst being overseas, all in some way related to education.


I am saddened by the state of things in SA. Just my thoughts and frustration that I am venting.


Keep well and stay safe everyone and soldier on.

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2 thoughts on “South African Education Scene

  • John Ecclestone Post author

    Hi Sylvia,

    Thanks for the response. Make know mistake I am extremely in “love” with my country. However the political climate is stifling everything and that is one of the reasons why I have left South Africa, to teach where firstly I am really wanted and my skills can make me a good income.

    Both my wife and I are very passionate about education and the whole skills training thing with qualifications being reregistered every few years is personally a load of …… . I will not fill in the word.

    Teachers and educators are over taxed and underpaid in South Africa and the value of education and the educator is not seen in the same light as when I was growing up. Granted, styles change and so do certain parts of a curriculum and syllabus.

    Make no mistake SA has extreme potential and yes it is know for all you have mentioned, but I also work in a different sector to only my education and training field. This is the field of intelligence gathering, business and otherwise. In the current state of the world education is a threat to what changes are taking place in the world. Unfortunately this is not the forum nor place to share my other field of work although it would make people reconsider positions.

    Yes, the three universities mentioned are great but unless you are in those sectors namely law, medicine etc.

    My issue and point is that things are extremely difficult as new educators to get into the field of work that we are in and even the older educators are finding it hard to progress. In essence the SETAs are good, however outcomes based education and the processes of assessment are long and laborious and paper intensive.

    Unless you know someone sitting in a SETA or are able to travel to one on a daily basis to follow up on anything, as a provider you are at there mercy.

    I completed my training for weapons and to date I still have not received any notification from SASSETA that I have qualified although I had the licence approved by the SAPS.

    I have read and observed other peoples frustrations here on this website and in various other educationals forums, SA never was this frustrating before.

    I have training material that I use from the USA for skills training and this is used in large corporates all over the world and they have no problem in presenting throughout the world yet when you want to do this in SA you have to be registered up to the Yin Yang and the process involved takes forever.

    It took me almost a year and a half to get us temporarily registered in SA.

    I have heard from a colleague in SA in order to register with SASSETA as a new provider you need the old PSIRA registered material first in order to do so. Well if you weren’t a training institute under PSIRA prior to the SETAs and PSIRAs stopping of the issuing of a T number (Training Institute would receive this number), how would you possibly have the material and why are they so interested in you having this when they provide you with all the material to train.

    This is not only the case in SASSETA as coming from an educational and training background I know many people in the same field.

    In the meantime our people sit untrained waiting for the mighty SETAs to approve an institution – comment from the person who did our site visit was, “oh just continue training.” PSIRA then says you can’t train until you are accredited.

    Maybe my brain is too small to understand the complexities of the SA education system that used to be tops, with no less than 5 unis in the top 10 in the world.

    Our people need jobs and they are just as frustrated with the ‘system’.

    I steer clear of media and very rarely do I watch TV but for my sport. My information I get comes from different sources. Media is the entity that can cause two friends to become bitter enemies.

    Thanks for your responses which I admire and appreciate very much.

    All the best and again thanks for the info on the site.

  • Sylvia F. Hammond

    Hi John, 

    It’s very important to distinguish between Basic Education; Higher Education (which includes universities and universities of technology, and also FET colleges – public and private); and then skills-development, which is the SETAS – who do not do training themselves but should set up the appropriate infrastructure of qualifications and providers per sector.  

    You cannot draw any adverse conclusions about the universities – especially since UCT for example is rated I believe in the top 100 – as is the UCT GSB MBA programme.  UCT law faculty is also academically quoted in about 17 place I think I last saw – way above where the university in total sits.  I believe that Wits and Stellenbosch equally are internationally recognised universities.

    So you would need to be very specific about where the problems are – and even in basic education (schools) where there are problems with some of the public schools – particularly the rural ones – this does not apply to all schools. 

    Equally there is a range within the universities from the UCT standard to previous technikons that are now universities of technology.

    It is also important to consider the specific economic sector – certainly in mining we are world leaders.  Our banking and financial sectors are also world leaders – performing significantly better than the traditional western leading countries.  So don’t believe that all is bad in SA – far from it – many things are significantly better than elsewhere – of course our media won’t tell you that – and you will always hear about what is wrong and very rarely about what is right. 

    Good to hear from you – stay in touch.