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South Africa’s ELT sector expands amid post-Covid resurgence

After pandemic-induced turbulence in South Africa’s English Language Teaching sector, which saw a decline in memberships, school closures, and more, the country is witnessing a significant market recovery post-Covid.
June 10 2024
2 Min Read

While South Africa’s ELT market recovery stood at 71.6% in 2022 compared to 2019 levels, that number reached 92% based on an analysis of ELT markets conducted by data company BONARD. 

Apart from fewer South African ELT schools contributing to the recovery as compared to 2019 due to closures and mergers during Covid, newer centres have emerged, signalling the sector’s expansion efforts. 

Capitalising on the growth, the University of Cape Town’s English Language Centre has announced that it will open 12 new state-of-the-art classrooms on Adderley Street, and 24 more classrooms at New Dover House in 2025 to accommodate over 500 students by mid-2025. 

While the new facilities on Adderley Street will have a capacity of 165 students, the new premises at New Dover House will house the centre’s head office. 

The expansion is part of the Hiddingh University Campus precinct, aimed at reinforcing the centre’s strong connection with the University of Cape Town and providing a diverse range of learning spaces.

“Last year we received 1,246 students from 63 different countries, and we sold 13,521 student weeks. Our post-pandemic growth has been exponential, and we are very excited to increase our overall capacity to over 500 students and bring so many learners together under one roof by mid-2025,” said Simon Harrison, the principal of the ELC.

“We have always aimed to provide not just language skills, but a comprehensive learning experience that our students can carry with them throughout their lives.” 

We have always aimed to provide not just language skills, but a comprehensive learning experience

Simon Harrison, ELC

Founded in 2015, the ELC’s academic facilities were also highlighted by Johannes Kraus, the business development manager at ELC. 

“Foremost, ELC is part of one of Africa’s top universities, which means students benefit from high academic standards and resources. Being integrated with UCT gives our students access to world-class facilities and a prestigious academic environment,” stated Kraus. 

In order to ensure the utmost convenience and safety for students, the Centre will also offer a daily free shuttle service between student residences and classroom sites. 

Though BONARD’s 2023 research report titled ‘Trends Shaping the Future of Global English Language Teaching’ highlighted a lower number of student weeks for South Africa compared to other major markets – Australia, Canada, USA, the UK, New Zealand, Ireland, and Malta – the South African market is finding ways to attract more international learners. 

Prominent ELT schools in South Africa partnered up to attract international students via agents from Brazil, Turkey, France, and Poland by organising a familiarisation trip for the latter in Cape Town in May 2023, as reported by The PIE. 

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