The Subjects Required to Become a Teacher in South Africa

Teaching is a noble and rewarding profession that plays a vital role in shaping the future of a nation. In South Africa, the demand for qualified and dedicated teachers is on the rise, as quality education is seen as a critical element for the country’s development. To become a teacher in South Africa, one must meet specific educational and subject requirements. This article explores the subjects needed to become a teacher in South Africa, the various routes to achieving this goal, and the demand for educators in the country.

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The Routes to Becoming a Teacher

In South Africa, there are two primary routes to becoming a teacher: a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE).

1. Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.)

  • The B.Ed. is a specialized undergraduate degree program designed for aspiring teachers. This degree is typically completed over four years, focusing on both subject knowledge and pedagogical skills.
  • Students pursuing a B.Ed. can choose from a variety of specialization options, such as Foundation Phase (grades R-3), Intermediate Phase (grades 4-6), and Senior Phase (grades 7-9).
  • To qualify for a B.Ed. program, students must meet the minimum entrance requirements, which include a National Senior Certificate (NSC) with a Bachelor’s Degree endorsement and specific subject choices.

2. Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

  • The PGCE is a postgraduate qualification that allows individuals with an existing bachelor’s degree to become qualified teachers. It is a one-year program that focuses on pedagogy and teaching methods.
  • To be eligible for a PGCE, candidates must hold a recognized bachelor’s degree in a specific subject area. This route is often chosen by individuals who have already completed their undergraduate studies in fields other than education.

Now, let’s delve into the specific subjects that are required to become a teacher in South Africa.

Subject Requirements for Aspiring Teachers

The subjects you need to become a teacher in South Africa depend on the route you choose, as outlined above. The specific subject requirements are essential for both the B.Ed. and PGCE routes:

1. B.Ed. Degree

For those pursuing a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree, the subject requirements typically include the following:

  • National Senior Certificate (NSC) with a Bachelor’s Degree endorsement: This requires passing specific subjects, often including two South African official languages (such as English and an additional language), Mathematics or Mathematical Literacy, and Life Orientation.
  • Subject Choices: In addition to the general NSC requirements, students seeking admission to a B.Ed. program must select subjects relevant to their chosen specialization. For example, someone interested in teaching mathematics might need to have taken Mathematics as one of their NSC subjects.

2. Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE)

If you are pursuing a PGCE after completing a bachelor’s degree, the subject requirements are determined by your existing academic background and the specific teaching subjects you wish to specialize in. The PGCE focuses more on pedagogy and teaching methods, assuming that you have already obtained the necessary subject knowledge through your prior degree.

It is important to note that these requirements can vary between institutions, so it’s advisable to check with the university or college where you plan to study to ensure you meet their specific entry criteria.

In-Demand Teaching Subjects in South Africa

While the subject requirements for becoming a teacher in South Africa depend on your chosen specialization and the level at which you wish to teach, there are some subjects that are consistently in demand due to the evolving needs of the education system and the job market.

1. Mathematics and Science

According to the Department of Education in South Africa, there has been a growing demand for qualified mathematics and science teachers in recent years. These subjects are considered critical for the country’s economic and technological development.

2. Local Languages

South Africa is a multilingual country with 11 official languages. The need for qualified teachers who can teach in local languages is high. Bilingual teachers who can instruct in both English and a local language are particularly sought after.

3. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)

The global emphasis on STEM education has also influenced South Africa’s education system. Teachers with expertise in these areas, especially in mathematics and technology, are increasingly valued.

4. Special Education

There is a growing awareness of the importance of inclusive education in South Africa, and teachers with training in special education are in demand to support students with diverse learning needs.

5. Foundation Phase (Grades R-3)

Early childhood education is critical for a child’s development, and teachers specializing in the Foundation Phase are essential for building a strong educational foundation.

6. Life Orientation and Life Skills

These subjects play a crucial role in the holistic development of students, and teachers with expertise in life skills education are needed to address social and emotional aspects of learning.

The Demand for Educators in South Africa

The demand for educators in South Africa has been on the rise in recent years. The country’s education system faces various challenges, including teacher shortages, inadequate resources, and the need for qualified teachers in specific subjects and specializations.

According to data from the Department of Education, South Africa has experienced a shortage of teachers in key subject areas, particularly mathematics and science. To address this shortage, various initiatives and incentives have been introduced to attract and retain qualified educators in these fields. These initiatives include bursaries, scholarships, and additional financial support for students pursuing education degrees in critical subjects.

The demand for teachers in local languages is also significant, as it contributes to promoting linguistic diversity and ensuring that students have access to education in their mother tongue. The importance of teachers who can instruct in both English and a local language is underscored by the country’s diverse cultural and linguistic landscape.

Moreover, the growth of the STEM sector and the emphasis on technology and innovation have created a need for teachers with expertise in mathematics, science, and technology-related subjects. South Africa aims to equip its students with the skills and knowledge necessary to compete in the global economy, and qualified STEM teachers play a pivotal role in achieving this goal.

The demand for special education teachers has also increased as the country moves toward more inclusive education practices. Special education teachers are essential in addressing the diverse needs of students with disabilities and ensuring that every learner has equal access to quality education.

Early childhood education is another area where the demand for teachers is expected to grow. The Foundation Phase is critical for building a strong educational foundation, and qualified teachers in this field are needed to provide a nurturing and stimulating environment for young learners.

Life Orientation and Life Skills teachers are essential for developing students’ social and emotional intelligence. These educators play a vital role in guiding students through important life decisions, career choices, and personal development.


Becoming a teacher in South Africa is a noble and fulfilling career choice, and the subject requirements for this profession vary depending on the route you choose, whether it’s a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree or a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). The subjects needed for admission typically involve a combination of specific National Senior Certificate (NSC) subjects and specialization choices aligned with your intended teaching field.

South Africa’s education system faces various challenges, including a shortage of teachers in key subject areas, but the demand for educators remains high. Subjects such as mathematics, science, local languages, STEM fields, special education, early childhood education, and life orientation are particularly in demand, reflecting the evolving needs of the country’s education system and job market.

Aspiring teachers should consider these factors when choosing their subject specializations and degree paths, keeping in mind the critical role they play in shaping the future of South Africa’s youth and contributing to the nation’s development.

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