The JET Story

For over three decades, JET has worked with government and the public sector, civil society organisations, local and international development agencies and educational institutions to improve the quality of education and the overall relationship between education, skills development and the world of work.

JET Today

For over three decades, JET has worked with the governmental and public sectors, civil society organisations, local and international development agencies, and educational institutions. JET has invested in improving the quality of education and the overall relationship between education, skills development and the world of work.

In response to the constantly changing ecosystem, JET has evolved into an "(dis)intermediary organisation", able to manage the implementation and evaluation of education interventions, both locally and internationally, particularly on the African continent. We aim to be Africa's leading educational think-do tank to positively impact education policy and implementation in South Africa and Africa through rethinking current education systems and engaging in evidence-based research. The organisation is driven by four core values: Championing Social Justice in Education and being People-Centred, Knowledge-Driven and Innovative. "Think Education. Think JET" was adopted as our new slogan, transitioning from 'Transformation through Knowledge".

The services JET offers form an integrated value chain, representing the kinds of services that we provide. We do research which informs implementation, and we monitor and evaluate implementation, which feeds back into the knowledge base. This synergy among research, implementation and evaluation, which JET strives to achieve advances the development of knowledge, and in turn may lead to the modification of the existing intervention models and the building of new ones.

Read Towards a JET Theory of Change to learn how JET aims to affect others through evidence-based knowledge interventions, collaboration with the public and private sectors and the use of technological infrastructure to turn challenges into solutions, resulting in improved education quality, particularly for disadvantaged communities.

JET now

JET adopted the "Infinity and Beyond" principle for its 2021 – 2025 Strategy. The way in which JET does its work influences whether the desired behaviour change will be realised with JET's different boundary partners. JET draws on a variety of theoretical frameworks, with a common pro-poor focus, to inform how the organisation collaborates, delivers its services and conducts its research.

In 2022, JET celebrated thirty years of work in the education sector. Read 30 Years of JET: Milestones and Timeline. Click here to see how we celebrated and watch the video of our past and current CEOs reflecting on 30 years of JET and education in South Africa.

The founding of JET

The Joint Education Trust, the forebear of JET Education Services, was set up in 1992 by a remarkable partnership of leaders from South Africa's corporate world, from the country's major political parties, the trade unions and representative organisations of black business.

A remarkable partnership

At the time, when South Africa was on the cusp of a new democratic era, this was a ground-breaking initiative. It was pioneered by business visionary Mr Mike Rosholt who won the commitment from 14 leading South African companies to provide R500 million [more than R1 billion in today's currency] towards solving one of the greatest challenges that the new democracy would face – the restructuring of the country's education system, then rife with the inequalities imposed by the apartheid government.

This commitment was not wholly altruistic. Business knew that its future success would depend on well-educated management and a skilled labour force and also on building a relationship with the emerging new government.

Despite an initial air of distrust and suspected hidden agendas, after more than a year of negotiations and debate, the African National Congress [ANC], other political parties and unions accepted the bona fides of business and the Trust Deed was signed.

The Joint Education Trust Board of Trustees drew equal representation from all the partners, creating a diverse set of perspectives that worked effectively from the first board meeting. The Trust's successes were undoubtedly due, in the first instance, to this remarkable partnership. They were supported, however, by the management and staff appointed by the trustees to realise the Trust's strategic objectives in the drive to create a unitary, non-racial education system with equal access to all.

Founding Partners of the Joint Education Trust


Due to corporate restructuring, this list was subsequently enlarged with the inclusion of Amplats Limited, AngloGold, CG Smith Limited, and Reunert Limited. The National Education Coordinating Committee disbanded in 1995.

Focus of funding

Over a period of close to 10 years, the R500 million committed to the Trust was disbursed in grants to more than 400 service providers in five focus areas: Early childhood development; Adult basic education and training; Vocational and further education; In-service teacher training and development; Youth development.


Over this time, the Trust supported in-service training for nearly 35 000 teachers, resulting in an improvement in the quality of education for nearly 2.5 million learners across the spectrum – from pre-school to adult education classes and from the most remote farm schools to poor township schools.

In addition, the R500 million invested by the Trust's donor companies leveraged more than R680 million from international donors such as USAID, the European Union, DFID, DANIDA, the Royal Netherlands Embassy, the Ford Foundation and the Kellogg Foundation. The Trust's management of these funds resulted in at least doubling the numbers of teachers trained and learners reached.

The Trust's move towards financial self-sustainability, independent of its original trust funds, was seeded in the organisation's founding agreement. From as early as 1997, the Trust began to cover a growing proportion of its operating costs from income derived through its non-grant-making work – from fees received for project and financial management undertaken on behalf of foreign and local funders, including government, and from its increasingly valued research services.

In 2001, after successfully discharging its founding mission, JET reviewed its role and shifted focus from fund disbursement to managing education and development projects. Similarly, in 2009, JET Education Services redefined its role amongst the new educational challenges and role players and revised its vision and mission accordingly.

Read Education Pathfinders: a short history of the Joint Education Trust, from the contribution of the South African corporate sector in the early 1990s to the emergence of a unique education development agency a decade later.

JET 2015

The challenges in the complex arena of South African education remain enormous. In this context, JET continually worked to make a real difference in the lives of some of South Africa's poorest citizens. Consequently, it increased its focus on education improvement, broadening the scope of its research and development work to include education planning, youth and communities and Further Education and Training College improvement. In 2013, in recognition of our work in the Technical and Vocational Education and training sector, JET was accorded the status of a UNEVOC Centre.

JET continued to play a significant role in education research and evaluation. Its work was guided by "Vision 2015", a strategy developed in 2009. The strategy refocused the organisation toward becoming a delivery support organisation, with a particular focus on improving the quality of education for the poor and emphasising research and knowledge‐based interventions. JET's three strategic objectives were set:

To demonstrate replicable, systemic education change models that can be used by government and its partners to improve the quality of public education in South Africa;

To make a meaningful contribution to the education development knowledge base and to finding solutions to the national educational challenges;

Run sustainable organisational operations that will increasingly strengthen JET's organisational capacity and relevance in the education sector.

JET 2019

JET uses its agility proactively and innovatively to develop new solutions in education that can be implemented over time by the large and less agile public system, keeping the transformational agenda at the core of what JET is and does. JET understands the imperative to work "before government" more than ever, as the hoped-for transformation from South Africa's painful past is much slower than any of us expected. The education system is still in dire need of quality improvement, and finding the right levers through evidence-based research is more important than ever before. There is a clear need for greater collaboration between like-minded PBOs, post-school education and training institutions, national and provincial government departments, and international agencies. JET embraces the co-creation approach with funders and clients. Whilst firmly committed to our founding vision of improving education for disadvantaged South Africans, we have expanded our reach to include international work, particularly on the African continent.