The ABET, or Adult Basic Education and Training, levels in South Africa exist to help upskill and educate those who didn’t have the advantage of completing their formal schooling. It is there to help you acquire basic skills and even some career-focused training that will help you improve your employment prospects and finalize your basic education. While the ABET program doesn’t quite provide a matric-level certification, if you’re starting from a poor educational background, it is a great way to update and upskill your future prospects and kickstart career opportunities. Today, we will explore the ABET levels, their exact relationship to the better-known Matric qualification, where you can pursue ABET training, and its duration, as well as the benefits and opportunities it will unlock for you.
What Are The ABET Levels?
Let’s start with the basics- what even are the ABET levels, and what do they do? ABET is structured with 4 levels, beginning at level 1. Throughout each level, you will acquire essential literacy and numeracy skills, empowering the learner to access further education opportunities and improve their employability as they go.
Similar to the structured Matric program in schools, ABET programs focus on key subjects such as language, mathematics, and life orientation, ensuring you build the best life possible for yourself through education that meets you where you are. However, they build from a much lower existing education level than a Matric or an Adult Matric would. Here are the ABET levels and who they are aimed at.
- ABET Level 1: This level provides very basic foundational education and targets individuals with little to no literacy or numeracy skills. It’s the equivalent of a Grade 3 primary education in the traditional school system.
- ABET Level 2: Level 2 builds upon Level 1 and continues to develop literacy and numeracy skills. It is equivalent to a Grade 5 education.
- ABET Level 3: Level 3 further enhances these skills, providing a more comprehensive education in core subjects. It is meant to echo a Grade 7 education level, the end of primary school in SA.
- ABET Level 4: ABET Level 4 represents the highest level of the ABET program. You will exit the ABET program with the equivalent of a Grade 9 education. This is midway through high school, and is currently the earliest legal point for school leavers to exit formal education.
Is ABET Level 4 a Matric?
No, the ABET Level 4 is not a Matric. It is the equivalent of passing Grade 9 in South Africa, the midpoint of high school and the earliest legal point at which a child can choose to leave formal education today.
Remember, ABET is less of a ‘school leavers’ qualification and more of a grounding program designed to help those who did not have good educational opportunities in their youth improve themselves and their future prospects. South Africa has many people who were forced to leave school very early, either to earn income or care for their families or due to adverse circumstances. ABET focuses on so-called ‘core’ literacy, like math, language, and life orientation, and does not include the broader science, geography, history, and other curriculum options found in matric.
While ABET Level 4 will greatly improve your job prospects and employability, some employers will require Matric as a minimum qualification. Luckily, any learner with a Grade 9 (or higher) can enter the ‘Adult Matric’ program- so an ABET Level 4 will let you funnel into this if you’re looking to get your formal Matric!
Where Can I Do The ABET Levels?
ABET programs are widely available in South Africa and are widely offered by educational institutions, community centers, and adult learning centers. So you’re sure to find one near you. If you’re looking at a structured program with learning support, classes, and hands-on participation, it will cost between R1400-R1800 a level. Government-funded initiatives and NGOs often provide ABET classes. Some of these programs are free or heavily subsidized to help make them as accessible to everyone as possible.
How Long Are The ABET Levels?
How fast you can complete your ABET levels depends on the amount of hours and learning you can dedicate each week to the program. It will need about 4 to 6 hours of work and study from you each week to get the most from your ABET experience. If you can dedicate this time and are a quick learner, you could be done with ABET in as little as 6 to 10 months.
What Are The Benefits Of ABET Levels?
The key benefit of the ABET program is providing a form of ‘bridging’ education between early school leavers and the years they missed. ABET will assist with:
- Basic literacy and numeracy, you may have missed out on leaving school early
- Employability, opening doors to a wider range of career opportunities for you.
- ABET provides a sense of accomplishment and self-confidence, motivating you to continue your education and pursue personal and professional goals you may have thought were not open to you.
- While not equivalent to Matric, ABET Level 4 sets you up to enter an Adult Matric program and, from there, other educational opportunities.
In a wider sense, ABET is also great for South Africa. A population with improved literacy and numeracy skills contributes positively to the development of their communities and the country as a whole, with better earnings opportunities and improved quality of life.
Can I Study Further With An ABET Qualification?
Yes, you can study further with an ABET qualification. For the most part, you won’t be able to move immediately into formal tertiary education. That will need you to complete your Amended Senior Certificate, or ‘Adult Matric’.
However, ABET Level 4 is formally an NQF 1 qualification, so any certificate program or TVET college that accepts NQF 1 will already be open to you. You may also be able to use a bridging program to enter some higher education opportunities, depending on the institution and course. Additionally, vocational and skills development programs are available to ABET graduates, allowing you to gain specialized skills and certifications in several fields, from basic computer literacy to some of the artisan trades.
While an ABET Level 4 is not equivalent to Matric, it serves as a valuable educational pathway for adults who wish to improve their literacy, numeracy, and employability and gain the equivalent of a Grade 9 education. While it may not fulfill the requirements for certain tertiary institutions, it is a fantastic stepping stone to further education and personal growth for those whose educational dreams were cut short.
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