Fact Sheet

Highest Level of Education Attainment in South Africa

The information provided in this Fact Sheet is intended to draw policymakers’ attention to the trajectory of South Africa’s education system in terms of the highest level of education attainment of the population, including its workforce.


This Fact Sheet aims to monitor the skills set amongst people in the population to assess whether the post-school education and training is making any transformational impact. We provide signals on how best to balance the provisioning of education at different levels and seek to provide answers to the following research questions:

  • What is the highest level of education attainment of South Africa’s population, including its workforce?
  • What is the profile of those who completed education at various levels, in terms of gender, race, province and age categories?
  • To what extent has South Africa achieved its Constitutional obligation for the right to basic education?
  • How does South Africa compare internationally, in terms of the achievement of literacy and those who have completed degrees, especially in terms of its workforce?

A proxy measure of the skills and capability of South Africa’s workforce is its Highest Level of Education Attainment (HLEA).

This publication covers

  • Terms and definitions
  • Adult
  • Employed
  • Highest Level of Educational Attainment
  • Tertiary education
  • Unemployed