Varsity can be a wild ride. Life after your undergraduate degree may not be as predictable as you thought though.  A Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) may be the next step to bump up your qualifications..  

On one hand, you may feel that pursuing a career in the field you studied may not actually be what you want to do. On the other hand, you may not feel adequately equipped to find employment.  These are testing times.

What you need to know

A PGCE could be the way forward here.  This postgraduate, 1-2 year course offered at various institutions provide you with the skills and qualifications to teach your studied subject in schools. The course provides students with a better understanding of teaching a skill and not on teaching the specific content. Obtaining this qualification, in addition to an undergraduate degree, allows PGCE students to become teachers.  Note that the degree will need to have to be realted to the school subject you would like to teach.

There are three types of PGCEs one can specialise in;

PGCE Primary: to teach children in primary school. You may only specialise in teaching a specific age group. 

PGCE Secondary: prepares you to teach high school learners.

PGCE Further/Adult Education: for individuals who want to teach in higher education institutions or adult education classes.

After completing an undergraduate degree (for example a BA, BA Dramatic Arts, BA Fine Arts, B Mus, BCom, or BSc)  with the appropriate subjects, one can qualify as a high school teacher by studying a one year full-time or two year part-time PGCE at various institutions. In order to teach certain subjects you are required to have completed specific subjects in your undergrad degree.  For example, in order to teach Drama in schools, you are required to have already completed subjects like Speech and Drama training or Dramatic Arts. In order to teach certain languages such as English or Zulu you must also have taken those subjects in your undergraduate degree. 

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Depending on the chosen institution, the PGCE can be either full time or part-time and usually entails attending lectures. The content covered includes topics such as theories about how children learn and receive information. Some Universities offer courses around the theory of education as well as methodology which expands on the ‘How’ of teaching. Practical components are also included such as school placements; visiting schools for a given period of time to teach and engage practically with the course content.

Why PGCE? 

There are many benefits of continuing your studies and opting for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE), however many students may find completing their studies daunting and choose this as a manner in which to avoid leaving varsity and entering into the ‘real’ world. Becoming a teacher is more than just dictating from a textbook.  This role has great responsibility and by following this path you will become part of shaping a young individual’s future.

There is always a huge demand for teachers, both in South Africa and internationally. If you are passionate about the subject you have studied and enjoy working with young people, then this may be for you. Teaching allows you  to deepen your understanding of a subject and can go beyond just teaching others.

Find more after school career options here!

PGCE: Where and How?

As mentioned above, this can be done at most higher education institutions such as colleges, universities  or even online if you aren’t able to physically attend classes. In South Africa, there are a few institutions that offer this qualification: The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), University of Johannesburg (UJ), The University of South Africa (UNISA) The University of Cape Town (UCT), University of Kwazulu Natal (UKZN), Embury (online), MANCOSA

There are funding opportunities available for this qualification. The education field is in need of quality teachers and thus bursaries are often available.


Find out more about potential bursaries that could send you on your desired education journey.

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