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Two Routes to Follow to Gain Tertiary Qualification after Completing Grade 9 in South Africa

Are you worried about what to do to upgrade your qualifications after completing Grade 9? This article will sort this out, as it contains information on Two Routes you can follow to gain Tertiary Qualification after Completing Grade 9 in South Africa.

Two Routes to Follow To Gain Tertiary Qualification after Completing Grade 9 in South Africa
These are two out of many routes you can follow to gain tertiary qualifications after Grade 9


Oftentimes, at the mention of tertiary qualification, the first thing that comes to mind is University. Many have grown to believe that Tertiary Qualifications are associated with Universities only, but in the real sense, it extends beyond a University.

According to Indeed.com [4], tertiary qualification is a formal education obtained after secondary school.

In other words, Tertiary qualifications, also known as post-secondary or higher education qualifications, are educational achievements obtained after completing secondary education/high school. These qualifications signify a higher level of expertise, knowledge, and specialization in a specific field. They are typically gained from Universities, Technical Colleges, and other institutions of higher learning.

These qualifications are recognized credentials that can lead to career advancement, specialized employment, and further academic pursuits. They come in various forms, such as Degrees, Doctorates, Diplomas, Certificates, and Licenses, each representing a different level of academic achievement and specialization.

Having understood what Tertiary Qualifications are about, in South Africa, the education system runs from Grade 0 -12. However, education is compulsory from ages 7 (Grade 1) -15 (Grade 9). Grade 9 is an equivalence of Junior Secondary (JSS3). Ideally, after this level, students are expected to proceed to the next level, which is the Senior Secondary, a phase that prepares them for their final exams (Matric).

While this is the right order to follow, many students quit school after completing Grade 9. In order to accommodate these sets of people who end school at Grade 9 and missing the opportunity to write the Matric exam, a qualifying exam for NSC,

The South African government [2] introduced a new law that allows learners to leave school at the end of Grade 9 with a General Education Certificate (GEC). The GEC does not replace the NSC or matric, but complements it. Although learners who obtain the GEC will still be eligible to pursue the NSC or matric if they wish to do so, they will also have other options available to them, such as Private and TVET colleges or skills development programmes.

Bearing this in mind, if you stopped schooling after Grade 9, it’s not the end of the road. Beyond the General Education Certificate (GEC), there is still room to get tertiary qualifications.

In this article, we will be looking at two routes you can follow to gain a tertiary qualification after completing Grade 9.

Two Routes To Follow

Moving on, after completing Grade 9 in South Africa, there are distinct routes available to further your education and acquire a tertiary qualification. Let’s delve into each of these routes:


One of the two routes a 9th Grader can follow to gain a tertiary qualification is via TVET Colleges [3] (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) or FET (Further Education and Training) Colleges. If you are worried about the possibility of studying in TVET college without a matric, don’t overthink it. You only need to have a Grade 9 Certificate (GEC). TVET/ FET colleges are similar [1], often used interchangeably. They offer a range of vocational and technical courses, providing practical skills and hands-on training. In other words, the programs cater to students who want to continue their education beyond Grade 9 while also acquiring practical skills.

These colleges offer qualifications like National Certificates (Vocational) and NATED (National Accredited Technical Education Diploma) courses, which can lead to various careers in Technical fields.

Thus, rather than a solely theoretical curriculum, TVET colleges emphasize practical training that prepares you for specific careers. This route is well-suited for individuals who wish to enter professions such as Engineering, Hospitality, Business, and other specialized industries. TVET colleges not only provide valuable practical skills but also often collaborate closely with industries, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for the job market.


Distance Learning

Distance learning, also known as distance education or online learning, is an alternative form of education that allows students to earn qualifications without physically attending traditional classrooms. This approach has gained significant popularity due to its flexibility and accessibility, enabling learners to pursue education while managing work, family, or other commitments. 

Distance learning provides access to a wide range of programs and courses. Students can enroll in undergraduate, graduate, and even doctoral-level courses across various disciplines. This enables learners to pursue their interests and career goals regardless of geographical limitations.

It offers diverse opportunities for learning, fosters independent study skills, and accommodates learners with varied circumstances and goals. However, you should thoroughly research programs, ensure accreditation, and be prepared for the self-directed nature of the learning experience.

Some universities and colleges offer distance learning programs that allow you to earn a tertiary qualification without attending classes on campus. These programs are suitable for individuals who need flexible study options due to work or personal commitments.


When deciding between these routes, it’s crucial to consider your passions, strengths, and aspirations. Reflect on whether you prefer a hands-on approach that TVET colleges offer or a more balanced academic-vocational.

Ultimately, both TVET colleges and Online learning contribute significantly to South Africa’s diverse educational landscape, offering students distinct avenues to achieve their tertiary qualifications and pursue successful careers.

It’s important to carefully research and consider the options available to you, taking into account your interests, career goals, and personal circumstances. Speak with education advisors, career counselors, and individuals who have experience in the field you’re interested in to make an informed decision about the most suitable route for you.

In all, the route you follow doesn’t really matter as long as it make you better in all areas of life.


[1] Jephta. “What Are Further Education and Training Colleges?” FET College, 11 Nov. 2021, https://fet-college.co.za/further-education-and-training-colleges/.

[2] Matthew. “Government to Introduce New School Certificate in South Africa.” Matric College, 14 May 2021, https://www.matric.co.za/government-to-introduce-new-school-certificate-in-south-africa/.

[3] —. “What Do I Need to Study at A TVET College?” Matric College, 9 Sept. 2020, https://www.matric.co.za/what-do-i-need-to-study-at-a-tvet-college/.

[4] Indeed.com, https://au.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/tertiary-qualification.

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