Foundation Phase in Education

BEd degree in Foundation Phase

Qualification code: 4BH J01 (Contact)

General aim and purpose of the BEd Foundation Phase degree

This qualification is directed at training educators from Grade R to Grade 3. It is a 4 year qualification with a total number of 527 credits for the programme.

The Foundation Phase is the first phase of formal schooling in South Africa. It involves teaching from the Reception Year, which is called Grade R (5-6 years of age) to Grade 3 (± 9 years of age).  The Foundation Phase teacher plays a vital role in laying the foundation for future learning. The teacher is furthermore responsible for the holistic development of every child in the class, the development and enhancement of critical thinking, reading, arithmetic, social-emotional and life skills. Foundation Phase teachers should have ample knowledge on child development, developmental skills, physical, sensory, communication and learning difficulties in the young child. The teacher should be able to plan developmentally and culturally appropriate activities that address diversity in the classroom and give ample opportunities where children can practice their skills.

The aim of the BEd Foundation Phase programme at the NWU (NQF Level 7), is to develop teachers who can demonstrate general educational principles as well as focused knowledge, skills and competencies for teaching in Grade R to Grade Three. The qualification requires in-depth specialized knowledge in theories of teaching and learning, together with practical skills and experience in the Foundation Phase classroom teaching context.

As part of the qualification, students will be expected to gain experience in applying such knowledge, skills, values and competencies in the context of working with Grade R to Grade 3 learners in schools. This will be accomplished by the prescribed curriculum on the basis of the coherent and on-going connection between the core theory of pedagogy, the theory of teaching and learning and the subject content of Foundation Phase teaching.


A compulsory Home Language (HL) for 4 years and a First Additional Language (FAL) for 3 years, as well as a Language of Basic Conversational Competence (LOCC) for a semester determine admission to the BEd Foundation Phase in addition to the prescribed academic admission requirements. Languages available to choose from as Home Language as per Senior- / Matric Certificate.

Home Language (HL) and First Additional language (FAL) passed at level 4 (50%-59%).

English Home Language in the programme requires at least the passing of Gr 12 English First Additional language at level 5 – minimum of 65%.



Mahikeng Campus:

HL : English, Setswana. 

FAL: Afrikaans, English, Setswana.

Potchefstroom Campus

HL : Afrikaans, English,  Setswana. 

FAL: Afrikaans, English, Setswana.

Vanderbijlpark Campus:

HL : Afrikaans, English, IsiZulu, Sesotho.

FAL: Afrikaans,  English, IsiZulu, Sesotho.


HL : Afrikaans, English, IsiZulu, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana.

FAL: Afrikaans, English, IsiZulu, Setswana.

Contact details


       BEd Foundation Phase  Programme leader:  

       Ms Susan Maree

       +27 16 910 3141


        BEd Foundation Phase Coordinator Potchefstroom:                                                                                                                                                                 

        Ms Nellytia Motaung

        +27 18 299 1713


        BEd Foundation Phase Coordinator Mahikeng:

        Mrs Ellen Nkwe

        +27 18 389 8669 / 2669


        BEd Foundation Phase Coordinator ODL:

        Ms Sandra Fourie

        +27 18 299 1858

Diploma in Grade R Teaching (ODL)

Qualification code: 490 1001 

General aims and purpose of the Diploma in Grade R Teaching

The Diploma in Grade R Teaching is a NQF-level 6 qualification consisting of 380/388 credits. The programme acknowledges the importance of mother tongue language in the early years. Students therefore have a choice between eight of South Africa’s 11 official languages with regards to the development of their own pedagogical content knowledge of a Home Language (resembling the language of teaching and learning used in the Grade R classroom), a First Additional Language and the Conversational Language. Students choosing English Home Language are required to also complete one African language module of 8 credits as required by the Department of Higher Education and Training, and as stipulated in the Revised Policy on the Minimum Requirements for Teacher Education Qualifications. Therefore, students who choose English Home Language will complete a total of 388 credits to attain the Diploma in Grade R Teaching.

As part of the three year Diploma in Grade R Teaching, students are also guided in applying knowledge and skills in the context of working with Grade R learners in a school under the supervision of a qualified teacher who acts as a mentor.

Curriculum code: O100P

Programme code: A GR R Open Distance Learning

Career opportunities

This qualification is geared at under- and unqualified practitioners who are already practicing in a Grade R classroom at a school with an EMIS number.

The Department of Education identified the lack of specialized training in the field of Grade R teaching as well as a shortage of qualified Grade R teachers as barrier in preparing 5/6 year olds for formal schooling. By offering this programme, the university and the Faculty of Education want to satisfy the need of the country and deepen the knowledge base of people in the field of Early Childhood Development. Using innovative technologies (for example interactive white boards) the programme is also addressing the university’s vision of innovative teaching, which provides an opportunity for professional development to a wider spectrum of the community.

This distance learning programme provides under- or unqualified Grade R practitioners access to a higher education qualification and consequently to be acknowledged as qualified teachers in the workplace.  The qualification is recognised by the Department of Basic Education and viewed as a quality programme enabling practitioners to qualify for the relevant REQV level 13 for salary purposes.

This specialised qualification will provide the successful candidate with an opportunity to articulate into a BEd (Foundation Phase) qualification in order to gain status as a fully qualified Foundation Phase teacher.

Admission requirements

National Senior Certificate with Diploma Endorsement or equivalent;

Or Level 4 certificate/diploma in Early Childhood Development;

Or Level 5 certificate/ diploma in Early Childhood Development.

Work-Integrated Learning (WIL)

For any teacher training programme to be effective, students must get an opportunity to apply their knowledge to a classroom situation. The Diploma in Grade R Teaching therefore comprises six Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) modules. Students will complete one WIL module per semester where each WIL module carries 8 credits. These modules aim to equip students with the necessary pedagogical knowledge and skills that will enable them to integrate and apply the knowledge they encounter in their academic modules with the authentic experience they get during Work Integrated learning in a school.  These modules aim to integrate the two types of practical learning, namely learning from practice and learning in practice. The WIL modules focus on learning from practice by guiding students in the implementation of competence based teaching activities. Students will need to implement these activities under the supervision of a mentor during the six week compulsory practicum period per year and provide proof of applied competence in the form of a comprehensive work-integrated portfolio.

The school where the WIL is implemented, must have an EMIS number (Education Management Information System). Students will not be allowed to complete their WIL at a school without an EMIS number.

Study duration

The minimum study duration for completing the Diploma in Grade R Teaching is 3 years and the maximum study duration is 5 years.


Study material is in English and contact sessions are presented in English. Basic proficiency in English is therefore a prerequisite for successful completion of the programme. Programme examinations and assignments may be submitted in either English or Afrikaans.

Early Childhood Development Honours and Masters Qualifications


The Faculty of Education is in the process of developing qualifications for Early Childhood Development (ECD) on Honours and Masters Level. This is being done in support of the university’s commitment to contributing to the country’s transformation of the education system through providing lifelong learning opportunities. The university has embarked on providing the two qualifications as an extension to the current provisioning of BEd Foundation Phase and the BEd ECCE from birth to four years of age, which is planned to commence in both contact and distance mode. Simultanously with the development of the BEd ECCE, the faculty is developing a Diploma in ECCE to be delivered only in the distance mode. Further info will be provided as available.