The Workers' College Approach

The College uses the struggle knowledge, experiences and skills of trade union and community activists to redress the historical imbalances in education and providing adult learners with opportunities for learning as well as deepen their understanding of the role of trade union and community struggles in the transformation of the broader society

One of the key tasks of the college is to develop worker and community leaders through providing educational opportunities for students selected from participating trade unions and community organisation

The College  serves as a progressive platform to promote debates on working class perspectives on a range of issues (RPL, Race, Class, Gender, and Economics)

The College also plays a transformative role within the educations sphere by challenging the current dominant/formal educational practices that disregards indigenous knowledge and the prior knowledge individuals acquire outside formal learning Collaborate with other educational institutions who share the vision of the College

About the Workers' College

The Workers’ College is a Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) and Non Profit Organisation which has been serving the labour movement, and communities in South Africa and on the continent of Africa, since its inception in 1991. Its main focus has been to raise the levels of skills, capacities, understanding and the consciousness of trade union activists at a political, social, and economic level, so that they would be able to engage with the challenges that confront them, especially in the workplace, in their sectoral institutions (such as bargaining councils, SETAs, health and safety committees) and in the broader society.

The Workers’ College is governed by a council elected for two years. A board of trustees oversee the governance of day to day issues at the College. The Organisation is subject to annual audits and a quality management framework assists in the effective and efficient implementation of main stream and project Activities.


To be a Hub and Quality cutting edge of Workers’ Education in Africa and the Global Community”


To advance social transformation, social justice, equality and worker rights through the provision of worker education that expands the agency, consciousness, activism, education and lifelong learning opportunities of workers as citizens and as producers


To advance social transformation, social justice, equality and worker rights through the provision of worker education that expands the agency, consciousness, activism, education and lifelong learning opportunities of workers as citizens and as producers

Organisational Objectives

The aims and objectives are to:

  • Locate worker education in the broader context of popular education and working class struggles,
  • Use education to raise the class consciousness of the participants who are from participating organisations,
  • Develop popular education programmes and practices that sustain the participatory and critical learning processes of participants,
  • Recognise and use the prior learning, and struggle experiences of participants,
  • Develop research capacity within the College,
  • Use worker education as a tool to develop worker leadership through providing intermediary and advanced political and ideological education,
  • Assist with developing education capacity in constituent organisations,
  • Develop a progressive and collaborative national, continental and global network of education initiatives and programmes with organisations that share our vision,
  • Initiate and support transformation at existing public educational institutions, and critically engage in collaborative popular education programmes with such institutions.

Participating Organisations

Organisations who would like their members to participate in educational programmes must apply to become participating organisations. As participating organisations they take part in the governance structures of the Workers’ College.

“Developing working class education for critical thinking and activism”
The College holds an annual graduation ceremony where Learners are rewarded for their studies during the year and special achievements acknowledged
  • Abanqobi Workers Union (AWU)
  • Chemical Energy Paper Printing Wood & Allied Workers Union (CEPPWAWU)
  • Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU)
  • Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (DENOSA)
  • Federation of Unions of South African  (FEDUSA)
  • Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU)
  • Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of SA (HOSPERSA)
  • Hospitality Industries & Allied Workers Union (HIAWU)
  • Independent Municipal & Allied Trade Union (IMATU)
  • National General Workers’ Union (NAGEWU)
  • National Sugar & Refining and Allied Industries’ Employees’ Union (NASARAEIU)
  • National Security & Unqualified Workers’ Union (NASUWU)
  • National Education, Health & Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU)
  • National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)
  • National Union of Leather & Allied Workers (NULAW)
  • National Union of Metal of SA (NUMSA)
  • Public & Allied Workers Union of SA (PAWUSA)
  • Police & Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU)
  • Professional Transport & Allied Workers Union (PTAWU)
  • South Africa Commercial, Catering & Allied Workers Union (SACCAWU)
  • Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU)
  • South African Chemical Workers’ Union (SACWU)
  • South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU)
  • South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU)
  • South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO)
  • South African Transport & Allied Workers’ Union (SATAWU)
  • Adult Basic Education and Training Act, 2000 (Act 52 of 2000)
  • Higher Education Act, 1997, (Act 101 of 1997)
  • National Qualifications Framework Act, 2008 (Act 67 of 2008)
  • Skills Development Levies, 1999 (Act 9 of 1999)
  • Skills Development Act, 1998 (Act 97 of 1998)
  • Further Education and Training Colleges Act, 2006 (Act 16 of 2006)
  • South African Qualifications Authority Act, 1995 (Act 58 of 1995)