Education in South Africa is governed by two national departments, namely the department of Basic Education (DBE), which is responsible for primary and secondary schools, and the department of Higher Education and Training (DHET), which is responsible for tertiary education and vocational training.
Prior to 2009, these two departments were represented in a single Department of Education.
The DBE department deals with public schools, private schools (also referred to by the department as independent schools), early childhood development (ECD) centres, and special needs schools. The public schools and private schools are collectively known as ordinary schools, and comprise roughly 97% of schools in South Africa.
The DHET department deals with further education and training (FET) colleges, adult basic education and training (ABET) centres, and higher education (HE) institutions.
The nine provinces in South Africa also have their own education departments that are responsible for implementing the policies of the national department, as well as dealing with local issues.
In 2010, the basic education system comprised 12 644 208 learners, 30 586 schools, and 439 394 teachers.
In 2009, the higher education and training system comprised 837 779 students in HE institutions, 420 475 students in state-controlled FET institutions and 297 900 in state-controlled ABET centers.
In 2013, the South African government will spent 21% of the national budget on education. Some ten percent of the education budget was for higher education.
According to the national census of 2011, among the South African population, 35.2% of black/African, 32.6% of coloureds, 61.6% of Indians/Asians and 76% of white citizens have completed an education of high school or higher. 41.7% of the total population has completed an education of high school or higher, whereas 8.6% of the population aged 20 years and older have not completed any schooling at all.