Demand for Education in the Five Countries of the South African Customs Union – Projections and Implications

Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers: WP20/2018, December 2018

35 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2019

Date Written: December 30, 2018


Demand for education rises with the level of economic development and over time. Censuses and surveys provide an approximation of realized demand for education for different birth cohorts over a long time span across countries and grades. Of the five SACU countries, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland, all except Namibia have already achieved school participation rates above 90% up to age 14. However, grade achievement is not equally impressive, due to high repetition. The projections of grade completion reported here incorporate UN Population Division demographic projections and assume that completion rates will asymptotically approach an upper limit. Assuming that repetition will stabilize allows estimation of enrolment. Future enrolment growth will slow due to slower growth of the school-aged population and because enrolment is already high. Demand for new teachers, however, should slow less, as the age structure of the current teaching personnel implies high levels of retirement. Tertiary enrolment will be constrained by the supply of tertiary places. To meet young people’s rising labor market expectations requires strong economic growth and labor absorption, improved education quality, and a focus on teaching appropriate skills. International tests show that education quality is weak in the SACU countries. Providing specialized tertiary and technical training for the four small SACU economies will require collaborative efforts.

Keywords: economic development, demand for education, enrolment projections, South African Customs Union

JEL Classification: I20, I25, J24

Suggested Citation

Van der Berg, Servaas and Knoesen, Marizanne, Demand for Education in the Five Countries of the South African Customs Union – Projections and Implications (December 30, 2018). Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers: WP20/2018, December 2018, Available at SSRN: or

Servaas Van der Berg (Contact Author)

Stellenbosch University ( email )

Private Bag X1
Stellenbosch, Western Cape 7602
South Africa

Marizanne Knoesen


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