Teacher (Educator)

Teachers are responsible for the facilitation of learning and the development of skills in children. Another vital role for teachers is to contribute to the development of the child’s character and sense of responsibility.

The specific nature of teachers’ work will depend on the age of the children they teach and the nature of the training they received. Prospective teachers can be trained for foundation phase or pre-primary, primary or secondary education. Specialist education includes special needs schools such as those for epileptics and for children with hearing, visual, mental or physical disabilities.

Foundation phase school teachers play a vital role in the early development of children. What children learn and experience during their early years can shape their views of themselves and the world and determine their later success or failure.

Pre-primary teachers lead children in activities which are designed to facilitate their language development, develop their physical abilities, communication skills and to interpersonal relationships. They need to be acutely aware of the emotional development of small children and organise and supervise activities and games that promote self-confidence and social interaction with other children. They try to keep a balance of activities while also ensuring that children have adequate rest periods. At times, they need to attend to sick children and those in need of first-aid; comfort children who are hurt or distressed and assist children with their toilet training and other personal matters. They teach from Grade R (reception) through to Grade 3. They usually teach all of the subjects in the curriculum to the learners.

Intermediate Phase – Grades 4 to 6: teachers give pupils the basic concepts of mathematics, languages and sciences. It is their responsibility to pave the way forward, encouraging young learners to enjoy the learning phase of their lives.

Senior phase – Grades 7 to 9: These teachers have versatile tasks which include, amongst others, the facilitating of learning, supplying information regarding many other choices children have to make, giving supportive counselling when necessary and setting an example regarding correct manners and behaviour.

At senior school level, teachers have usually graduated in a specific field and follow the syllabus laid down by the relevant department and curriculum in order to prepare students for examinations. Besides the formal education given in the classroom, the teacher is also expected to plan and organise extracurricular activities such as sporting events, cultural activities, tours, weekend camps and outings to places of interest. Through involvement with the child on this level the teacher gets to know the child better, and values such as a sense of responsibility, punctuality, respect, friendship and trust are nurtured. Teachers are also required to do administrative work which includes tasks such as setting examination papers, marking answer sheets, marking homework, the completion of registers, drawing up of schedules and the writing of reports.

FET: Those students who continue through Grades 10 to 12 are then prepared for this final phase of schooling. This, therefore, is a very important phase of their schooling and requires learners to make mature decisions - most importantly, to have properly trained teachers who will be able to guide them through this process.

Special Education: The teacher working in the field of special education works with children with speech and hearing disabilities, learning disabilities, blindness, deafness, hardness of hearing, weak-sightedness, epilepsy and mental and physical handicaps. These children require specialised attention and are taught through specially developed apparatus and techniques. The teacher works as part of a multi-professional team consisting of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, occupational counsellors, psychologists and medical personnel.

Teachers’ working hours may be irregular and depend on factors such as the amount of special classes they arrange, administrative work, and the number of extramural activities they are involved in.

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects
Compulsory Subjects: None
Recommended Subjects: Choose subjects you enjoy and would like to teach one day

Complete a matric (National Senior Certificate) meeting the requirements for a degree or diploma course. Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Degree: there are different ways of obtaining a teaching degree:

One of the more flexible options is to first complete a bachelor degree at a university of either 3 or 4 years, depending on the course concerned, followed by a one year PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education) for Grades 7 to 12. The bachelor degree must include as major subject(s), those that you wish to teach, (a major subject is a subject taken for the full term of the degree programme).

Note: Every institution will have its own subject requirements to qualify for acceptance. It is advisable to contact the institution at which you wish to study before making a final choice of subjects.

A second means of obtaining a teaching degree is via the Bachelor of Education (BEd) degree, a 4-year programme that integrates academic and professional training, intended for prospective teachers and those wishing to enter other educationally-related fields, which is offered by universities and universities of technology. Students may choose one of the following school-phase endorsements (each having a particular combination of core and phase-specific modules):

Intermediate & Senior phases (grades 4-6 & 7-9)
Senior phase & Further Education & Training: FET (grades 7-9 & 10-12)

For a Senior phase and FET endorsement, specialisation is offered in:

Engineering and Technology
Business & Management Studies
Science (including Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Life Sciences).

Qualifications in Education may be obtained at all universities.
Most universities offer a one-year full-time or a two-year part-time course in remedial education.

Diploma:?diploma courses in teaching provide a practical and focused teaching qualification targeted at specific levels of education, i.e. Foundation phase (Grades R-3), Intermediate, Senior phases and FET. The teaching diploma is offered by a number of universities and universities of technology. A diploma can be upgraded to a degree at a later stage.
Postgraduate: Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) courses are offered by most universities. These Certificates are, in particular, available for teachers of Grade 12 life sciences, english, mathematics and physical sciences. This training focuses on upgrading the subject knowledge and teaching skills of teachers.

A South African teaching qualification is highly regarded in most other Commonwealth countries. It also provides an excellent foundation for entry into other career paths outside the education industry. South Africa is planning to reopen three former teacher training colleges.

All educators need to register with the South African Council of Educators (SACE). You cannot be hired as an educator if you are not registered.


  • government schools
  • private schools or colleges
  • nursery schools
  • to earn an extra income teachers can give extra or part-time classes, for example in Mathematics or Adult-education.

Further Information

National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa
P O Box 572
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 324-1365

Programmes by Study Institutions


Study a BEd


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