The Department of Early Childhood Education (ECE) was established in 2001 after the former Onderwyskollege Pretoria (OKP) merged with the University of Pretoria. The first Head of Department, Ms Nkidi Phatudi, was appointed in 2003 to lead a team of five lecturers and to align departmental activities locally and internationally. The Onderwyskollege Pretoria had a long-standing relationship with the University of Pretoria dating back to the 1980’s. With the inception of the B Prim Ed degree, it was agreed that they, together with the College, would share the responsibility for the training of teachers. The University was to be responsible for the academic programmes and the College for the professional diplomas, certificates and practice teaching. The staff of the Pre-primary Phase and the Foundation Phase of the College became involved in the training of University students. In 1980 only 23 female and 9 male students registered for the B Prim Ed degree, most of whom registered for Early Childhood Development (ECD). In 2003 the last group of the B Prim Ed students was phased out. A new BEd ECD/Foundation Phase degree was introduced in 2001.

In 2006 changes were made to the programme which focused on electives and in 2009 the BEd Foundation Phase Programme was redesigned and restructured under the leadership of the Deputy Dean, Professor. Anna Naidoo. In 2013 the programme was aligned to the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) and the Minimum Requirements for Teacher Qualifications (MRTEQ) and submitted to the Department of Higher Education (DHET) and the Council for Higher Education (CHE) for approval and accreditation. The Department initially catered for undergraduate studies, but since 2009 it also accommodates the BEd Honours in Learning Support, master’s and doctoral degrees. 

The current Department of ECE has grown to 9 permanent lecturers and 5 part-time lecturers. Professor Cycil Hartell, the former Head of Department, was appointed in 2009. Then followed by Professor Ina Joubert in 2016 until she left for early retirement in 2018.

All the lecturing staff hold degrees and have specialist interests in areas of relevance for ECE. In seeking higher education qualifications either at masters or doctoral level respectively, the academic staff demonstrate their commitment to further study and higher levels of academic achievement.

Professor Azwihangwisi Muthivhi is the current Head of Department and he is the co-ordinator of CHAT AFRICA forum. He was appointed in March 2020.

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