Getting To Know Us

About Us

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. 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.


It is the Vision of the Workers’ College to be a hub of quality cutting edge Workers’ Education in Africa and the Global Community.


The Workers’ College Mission is to provide a strategic asset to the Labour movement and the Working class.


The core set of Values of the Workers’ College include Equity, Justice and Social Development.


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,
  • Develop research capacity within the College,
  • Recognise and use the prior learning, and struggle experiences of participants,
  • 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.

Background and History

The Workers’ College (Natal) was formally launched on the 4th July 1991.  The college was established with specific objective of providing education to workers, worker leaders and trade unions to empower them, their members and organisations.  It is an education organisation offering education programmes for trade unionists and community activists from within South Africa as well as the African continent.

The idea behind establishing the Workers’ College was from the realization that there were not many worker education institutions that addressed the problems and realities of trade unions and and the specific type of education needed by these organisations and the shop stewards from them. Unions themselves at the time did have fairly vibrant education programmes themselves but almost all education took place in the form of workshops conducted over a few days.