The size and shape of the public and private post‐school education and training system: what are the post school learning opportunities available for out of school youths and adults? (Ronel Blom)

The purpose of this study was to assess the size and diversity of the Post-School Education and Training (PSET) sector. The study investigated all public and private institutions offering programmes at National Qualifications Framework (NQF) Levels 2 to 6 (pre-degree programmes). Approximately  7 000 public and private sites of learning were identified, with the greatest number found in Gauteng, followed by Kwa-Zulu Natal and the Western Cape. These sites offered all types of qualifications, namely unit-standards based qualifications, curriculum-based, and legacy qualifications, such as the National Technical Education (NATED) qualifications.

The study concludes that the public PSET system, especially the college sector, has experienced a severe contraction, resulting in an inverted pyramid where the public college base has been reduced, leaving the public university system to cater for almost all post-secondary education needs. This has led to the emergence of a larger private post-school sector, which subsequently necessitated the introduction of various regulatory mechanisms to ensure quality delivery. While some data is still outstanding in respect of private education and training,  it is evident that in the last decade, very little skills development would have taken place if private PSET institutions did not step in to fill the vacuum created by the restructuring of the public system.

The research report includes details on the geographical spread of PSET institutions; types of qualifications offered by the different education and training sectors; and an emerging typology of providers, including ‘workplace providers’; ‘training centres’ and ‘institutions’. In examining this diverse range of ‘providers’, the study questions whether the system has an adequate number of PSET institutions which can offer programmes for post-school youth and adults.

The study will continue into the next phase and will examine student demographics, throughput and success rates, as well undertake case studies of a sample of institutions.
The paper is available at:

Dr Ronel Blom is a researcher at the Centre for Researching Education and Labour (REAL) at the University of the Witwatersrand's School of Education. She has undertaken a study on the Size and Shape of Post-School Education and Training in South Africa, on behalf of the Education Policy Consortium, funded by the Department of Higher Education and Training. 

For further information contact Dr Ronel Blom at