Rhodes>Faculty of Education>Page Resources>Distinguishing Features

 Distinguishing features of the Rhodes Education Faculty

  • The Faculty of Education enrolment in 2019 is 1091.
  • It offers a range of qualifications (from Level 5 up in the National Qualifications Framework [NQF]) within and across four broad education sectors: Higher Education; Formal Schooling; Early Childhood Education and Development (ECD); and Education, Development and Training (EDTP). Figure 1 shows the sector/s in which the different parts of Faculty work. The primary field served by the Faculty is that of Formal Schooling.
  • It is the only Faculty in South Africa that has created and which offers a qualifications-based career path for ECD practitioners to move from a SETA accredited NQF Level 4 and 5 certificate to a NQF Level 6 Diploma in Grade R Teaching and a NQF Level 7 Bachelor of Education (Foundation Phase Teaching) qualification.
  •  The Faculty is recognised for its quality teacher education programmes. It has an outstanding graduation rate for its initial teacher education programmes (in 2011, the RU PGCE graduation rate was 99%; the average in the E Cape was 60%) (Source: DHET, Trends in Teacher Education, 2011).  These throughput rates have remained consistent until now. Although in its infancy, the throughput rate of the new B.Ed. (FP Teaching) degree has been very good with 39 of the 46 students enrolled in the first cohort in 2015, graduating in April 2019.
  • After a period of growth and expansion with the re-introduction of a four-year, under-graduate Bachelor of Education (Foundation Phase Teaching) qualification in 2015, initial teacher education is in a steady state. The full-time undergraduate B.Ed. (FP Teaching) has changed the shape of the student profile with the proportion of post-graduate students decreasing.
  • The Faculty is dynamic, innovative and responsive to the needs of teacher education in South Africa, and proactive in engaging with the DHET and DBE about strengthening and expanding its initial teacher education programmes. This is evident in its decision to start an undergraduate four-year B.Ed. degree in Foundation Phase Teaching and an Advanced Certificate in Education (Foundation Phase Literacy) in response to the national imperative to improve literacy, specifically how to teach reading in isiXhosa and English First Additional Language. (Teaching reading in Afrikaans will also be considered, given that high proportion of Afrikaans speakers among disadvantaged communities in the Eastern Cape).
  • The Faculty is responding to needs for teacher professional development and upgrading of teaching qualifications in the Eastern and Northern Cape provinces. The Faculty is focused in its offerings, namely English Language Teaching, Mathematics Education, Life Orientation, Science Education, ECE and ICT in Education. The sustainability of these programmes (and the institutes in the Faculty that offer these qualifications) is dependent on the availability of funding from donors, SETAs and provincial departments of education.
  • The Faculty is responding to the need for teacher professional development at the postgraduate level (the Honours level in Namibia), and educational research at the Master’s and PhD levels in Namibia and further afield in Anglophone Africa.
  • The Faculty is focused on providing access and addressing issues of quality in teaching in the field of higher education through the Post Graduate Diploma in Education [PGDHE] offered by CHERTL. 
  • The Faculty, through CHERTL, contributes significantly to the national higher education landscape, both through the offering of formal qualifications at other institutions as well as through representation on national bodies such as the Higher Education Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (HELTASA) and the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC).
  • Since 2013, the Faculty has had an expanding PhD programme due to the establishment of the Maths and an additional Tier One Environmental Education Chair, and CHERTL’s doctoral programme. In 2019, the doctoral programme is in a steady state. However, further expansion is anticipated as members of Faculty obtain their PhDs and develop their doctoral supervision capacity.  
  • The Faculty, through its four research chairs and the doctoral programmes in higher education and education, is playing a lead role nationally in building the field of mathematics education and numeracy and higher education, and nationally and internationally in environment and sustainability education.  The faculty’s doctoral programmes and research chairs are the intellectual engine rooms of the Faculty, and they play a significant role in creating a space for strong scholarship and robust debate. Distinguished Professor Heila Lotz-Sisitka holds the NRF/DST Chair in Global Change Social Learning Systems Development: Transformative Learning and Green Skills Learning, Professor Eureta Rosenberg the Chair in Environment and Sustainability Education, Professor Mellony Graven the South African Numeracy Chair and Professor Marc Schäfer the Mathematics Education Chair.
  • The Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC) housing the first two chairs mentioned, is recognised by UNESCO as a Regional Centre of Expertise, and offers a strong post-graduate research programme with high levels of research outputs.
  • Other research foci areas include: Language and Literacy, Science Education and Educational Leadership.
  • The Faculty is actively engaged in research initiatives, funded by the EU/DHET, aimed at developing and strengthening teacher knowledge at the Foundation and Intermediate Phase levels of schooling.
  • The Faculty is engaged in research to develop a suite of quality teacher education programmes for educators working in Early Childhood Development (0-4) at NQF levels 4 and 5, and appropriate teacher education materials to support the delivery of these programmes.
  • The Faculty, through the Fundisa for Change programme (2014-2019), is involved in a national research and material development project aimed at strengthening teachers’ knowledge and teaching of environment and sustainability concepts.
  • The Faculty is research-focused.  An analysis of the University’s Annual Research Reports for the past five years shows an upward trajectory for the Faculty’s research outputs. It also shows that while Faculty’s research outputs are still concentrated on a few highly productive researchers, there is evidence of a shift towards an increasing number of staff publishing.  Bottom-up initiatives to support and strengthen publishing in the Faculty include: regular, collaborative writing days and off-campus writing retreats, and co-authoring articles with colleagues and post-graduate students. The Faculty also publishes at least one accredited scholarly journal (the Southern African Journal of Environmental Education, SAJEE) with several staff members on its editorial team. Faculty participation in national and international conferences and symposiums have increased. The number of publications in accredited journals, while showing an upward trend, should be increased. The Faculty needs to find ways of translating conference papers into journal articles, and securing additional research development funding and utilising that which is available through the Dean’s Discretionary Research Fund. 
  • The Faculty has developed and offered short courses endorsed by the South African Council of Educators (SACE) for the Continuous Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) purposes. These include one for developing teachers as mentors for students during their work-integrated learning (WIL) in local schools.  This work needs to be expanded because it provides opportunities for the Faculty to generate third-stream income.
  • The student profile in the Education Faculty is atypical of students in the other faculties at Rhodes (refer to the tabulated summary showing the Student Headcount by Faculty and Degree, 25 April 2019).  


Key characteristics of the student body include:

  • The student body is diverse (in terms of race, language, age, culture, social class and geographic origin) and representative of South African society.
  • Whereas in 2016, there were 759 African (79%); 46 Coloured (4,7%); 13 Indian (1,3%) and 143 White (14,8%), in 2019 this had changed to: 894 African (82%); 108 White (10%); 76 Coloured (7%) and 13 Indian (1%) students in the faculty.
  • The majority of Education students are female (68%).
  • The majority of Education students are part-time, mature students (i.e. over 30 years of age). This will change as the faculty’s initial teacher education programmes grow.
  • In 2019, there are 371 students (34%) enrolled in initial teacher education programmes (PGCE and B.Ed. (FP Teaching), and 344 students (31.5%) enrolled in in-service teacher professional development programmes (B.Ed.). Expanding our initial teacher education programmes has helped to balance initial and in-service teacher education in the Faculty, without compromising the University’s research-intensive orientation.
  • The majority of Education students are mother-tongue African language speakers.
  • The proportion of postgraduate students has remained the same (in 2016, 37% of Education students were enrolled in PG Diploma, Honours, Masters and Doctoral degree programmes and in 2019,  409 students (37,4%) are enrolled in these NQF Level 8, 9 and 10 qualifications). There has been a dip in enrolment in the Master’s programmes because of an emergent trend towards enrolling (fewer) full-thesis students. Faculty enrolment is ahead of target and aligned to the University’s enrolment plan and IDP.
  • The in-service teacher professional development courses in the Faculty target primarily, but not exclusively, teachers in rural, often remote, schools. Almost all these courses include school-based professional support for teachers. Research on this teacher professional development model undertaken in the faculty is providing evidence of the impact selected programmes are having on teachers. While this is the norm in initial teacher education programmes, it is rare in in-service professional development courses. To enable remote rural teachers to be in residence during their contact sessions at Rhodes University, and to visit them in their schools to observe their learning in practice requires bursaries and sponsorship more generous than what is ordinarily available. It requires ongoing systematic fundraising.    
  • The staff equity profile of the Faculty does not yet meet the University’s Staff Equity Profile, when Council funded staff only are considered. The Faculty consists of institutes and centres that are self-funded. While there is unevenness in the different parts of the faculty, overall, the Faculty is ahead of other Rhodes faculties insofar as equity is concerned, particularly when full-time externally funded staff are included in the count. Initiatives to address equity include the appointment of African language mother-tongue speakers to teach in the new B.Ed. (FP) degree. The Faculty has also been awarded three nGAP posts as part of a national initiative focused on redress and developing the next generation of academics.
  • The professional teaching staff (especially RUMEP, the CSD and ISEA) has a high proportion of staff who do not have Council funded posts. They are on contracts of three years or less.  Sustainability of these posts is dependent on fundraising and is thus an ongoing challenge.
  • Initial teacher education (PGCE) in the Education Department is dependent on the availability of part-time lecturers (local ‘leader teachers’ from functional schools) to teach the subject methods courses in the PGCE programme. Given the ongoing crisis in public schooling, it means that this group is still racially skewed.
  • With the exception of CHERTL’s PGDHE programme which has a blended mode of delivery, the mode of delivery for programmes in the faculty is contact. This includes the Education Department’s post-graduate programmes in Namibia.  Current modes of delivery need to be scrutinised with a view to developing alternate modes. Innovative blended learning will be expanded when the new qualification, the Advanced Certificate in Education (Foundation Phase Literacy), starts in 2020/2021.
  • The organisation and management of the Education Faculty is an atypical to other Rhodes faculties. The Faculty runs many of its programmes (especially the teacher professional development programmes) in school holidays.  Faculty staff teach during the Rhodes terms and during the vacations, both on campus, in Namibia and the Northern Cape. Students – both those doing professional development courses, Honours, Masters and PhD students come to Rhodes for a one to two-week contact sessions four to five times a year. The requirements for residence during the periods spent on campus are different to that of full-time students.  Short-stay residences for post-graduate students as well as ICT facilities over the December holiday period need to be provided if the Faculty is to live up to its strategic goal of providing quality education for all its students.
  • The administration and management of Faculty and departments/institutions/chairs and centres is complex. This was recognised in the Faculty Administration review a few years ago. The appointment of a Faculty Officer in December 2014 has meant that the Dean’s office has efficient admin support. The appointment of an Office Manager in the Education Department has enabled systems to be set up. The ELRC and Chairs raise funding for extended administrative support, as does the CSD, RUMEP and the ISEA, and the Manager of the PDC provides additional support for these parts of Faculty and the Education Department for their in-service teacher professional development programmes.

Last Modified: Thu, 28 May 2020 16:29:29 SAST