We held a poll on social media not too long ago over what fields students were most likely to study at Unisa. Education qualifications ranked first over all the other study fields, with one qualification, in particular, standing out – Unisa’s Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).
What is the PGCE though and why is it more desirable than other Education qualifications?
The PGCE is an Education qualification for students who have already completed an undergraduate degree and are looking for either a change in career or have decided to teach after graduating from university.
Unisa’s College of Education currently offers three (3) PGCE qualifications for students to pursue, namely:
- Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Foundation Phase and Early Childhood Development)
- The Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Intermediate and Senior Phase)
- Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Senior Phase and Further Education and Training)
What is the PGCE?
The PGCE is a one (1) year qualification that graduates of undergraduate degrees can pursue in order to become a school teacher, other than studying for a BEd. Students would also have to register themselves for the South African Council of Educators (SACE) in order to become a school teacher.
Therefore, the PGCE is seen as a gateway for students who do not want to study for a BEd but still want to become a teacher. This means that students could, for example, study for a degree in Marketing and still become a teacher via doing a PGCE without studying another degree for another 3 – 4 years.
While most professionals do recommend that students study directly for an Education qualification such as the Bachelor of Education (BEd), the PGCE remains a popular alternative pathway for those who want to keep their feet in both the education sector and the study field of their choice.
Students can study for an Education qualification in 2 ways:
- Study and complete a Bachelor of Education (BEd); or
- Study and complete a relevant Bachelors Degree + a PGCE qualification.
Both methods take 4 years to complete, so it’s best to weigh all options before making a final decision. If you’re already holding an undergraduate degree, then doing a PGCE qualification is highly recommended.
Note that PGCE is the ONLY alternative pathway recommended by Unisa that students can take into becoming a professional teacher. As per Unisa’s website, the Postgraduate Diploma in Tertiary Education and the Postgraduate Diploma in Inclusive Education will not qualify students as school teachers.
What are the requirements to study for a PGCE at Unisa?
Each PGCE qualification has different requirements as they’re set for different stages in the education sector. These include the Foundation Phase and ECD, Intermediate and Senior Phase, and Senior Phase and FET.
Requirements for Unisa’s PGCE qualifications include:
- Foundation Phase and ECD: Bachelor’s degree or equivalent as well as completion of at least 1 school subject at a 2nd level (minimum) and 2 official languages at 1st level. APS Score = 50
- Intermediate and Senior Phase: Bachelor’s degree or equivalent as well as completion of at least 2 school subjects at a 2nd level (minimum) and 2 official languages at 1st level. APS Score = 50
- Senior Phase and FET: Bachelor’s degree or equivalent as well as completion of at least 1 school subject at a 2nd level (minimum) and 2 official languages at 1st level. APS Score = 50
As you can see, not all requirements are the same when it comes to the PGCE. It’s best that students know exactly what their options are when going down this route.
However, the Foundation Phase/ECD and the Intermediate/Senior Phase PGCE qualifications HAVE BEEN DISCONTINUED and will only be offered at Unisa until 2021. It’s only available to students who have already registered for the qualification.
At the same time, the Senior Phase and FET PGCE (among other qualifications) will not be available to new students at Unisa from 2020 and onwards. More on these developments can be read online here.
If you do not at least meet the minimum admission requirements for the PGCE, then Unisa will reject your application.
Unisa has also plugged the gap for students who want to do PGCE modules for non-degree purposes (NDP). Students will have no choice but to apply for a PGCE qualification.
What Is The Difference With Each Unisa PGCE Qualification?
Each PGCE qualification comes with a restriction of what level of education one can teach.
Each level comes with a different range of subjects. The higher the level of a PGCE, the wider the range of subjects students can teach.
All PGCE qualifications more or less follow the same protocol: Lectures and coursework as well as teaching practice. Exposure to different teaching environments is the only major difference between the different PGCE options.
A common factor that all the qualifications have in common is the Teaching Practice module. For 5 – 10 weeks, students will gain experience in an actual teaching and learning environment. Students who enrolled for a BEd would too have to do Teaching Practice to get first-hand experience.
In other words, it gives student teachers exposure to a real-world teacher environment before heading into the teaching profession itself. The department responsible for placing teacher students in schools is the Unisa Teaching Practice Office.
Find out more about Unisa’s Teaching Practice office (such as student-teacher placements and contact details) online here.
Students doing a PGCE qualification is only allowed to work within its specific boundaries. One has to take note that different ages require a different skill set. Each age group requires different styles of teaching and support, hence the many PGCE qualification options.
Students would also have to think about why exactly they want to teach in a specific age group. For example, which age group/s would make you most comfortable to share your values? What age groups will enable yourself to express freely? These are decisions students studying in the Education field have to consider.
What’s the Recommended Study Time for a PGCE?
The PGCE consists of a mixture of six (6) semester and four (4) year modules, each of which should be managed with care.
Recommended study times differ with each individual person. While some can study 10 hours a week on a module, others are able to study and comprehend the module’s work by studying for only 5 hours a week. It’s up to the student on how they approach the work and whether they’re able to comprehend the module’s work.
Besides studying the theory of the work, remember that students still have to factor in the 10-week Teacher Practice program. Here are a few study tips that could help assist UNISA students on how to approach their work:
- Create a clean and stable study environment, staying clear of any distractions;
- Creating a study plan on what to tackle for the day (especially when it comes to the Teacher Practice program);
- Implementing mood music (preferably without lyrics) that will get yourself into the rhythm of studying;
- Creating flashcards (old-school, but why not) with small doses of valuable information that you or others can test on yourself;
- Avoid or restrict social media to a minimum;
- Restricting yourself to 10-15 minute breaks to recharge the batteries.
Naturally, students have perfected their own way of studying but there’s no harm in adding a few more to the list.
How Much Does It Cost To Do A PGCE At Unisa?
As of writing (16 July 2019), the current pricing to do a PGCE at Unisa in 2019 is:
- Semester Modules: R1 570 per semester
- Year Modules: R3 060 per semester
All in all, the cost of doing a PGCE at Unisa is R21 660. This refers to study fees only and excludes additional costs (library fees, miscellaneous fees, textbooks, etc).
Note that these are study fees for 2019 and they are subject to change. It’s only to give everyone a fair estimate on what the study fees are at this moment in time. Despite the amount mentioned, UNISA remains the most affordable option for students who want to attend university.
Whether students opt for studying a BEd or the PGCE, it’s viewed as a step in the right direction. The fact that young people remain interested in looking towards a career in education bodes well for the future. South Africa has a large teacher shortage at the moment, with many looking beyond our shores for better career opportunities.
According to Payscale.com, the average salary cost for a primary school teacher in SA ranges from R62k to R295k. The average salary cost for a high school teacher in SA ranges from R138k to R342k.
Teacher salaries do fluctuate as it depends on where someone teaches, what level they’re teaching and whether the school is public or private.
South Africa’s quality of education currently is in a dire state. It’s up to the teachers of the future to prevent the standards of education dropping and in turn, improving teaching quality as well as changing student lives for the better.
Last Updated: 16 July 2019