SMTE: Sediba Project

School of Physical and Chemical Sciences
Subject Group: Science, Mathematics and Technology Education

Sediba Project


Termination of the Sediba Project

The Sediba Project has accepted the last cohort of students in 2013. Read more ...



The Sediba Project was established in the Faculty of Natural Sciences in 1996. The project is a joint venture between the Faculty of Natural Sciences, the Faculty of Education Sciences, the North West Department of Education and the private sector. Finance for the project comes from sponsors the private and government sectors. In all cases, formal agreements of cooperation are signed between the sponsor, the beneficiary provincial education department and the NWU. About 120 bursaries are made available to students annually. These cover the cost of tuition, textbooks and study material. The Sediba Project is currently managed by the Subject Group for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (SMTE) in the School of Physical and Chemical Sciences. The science education and mathematics education programmes are delivered using the infrastructure of the Sediba Project. The term “Sediba Project” is also used when marketing these programmes and enrolled students fondly refer to themselves as “Sediba Students”.

The word "Sediba" is Setswana for fountain or well and symbolises the "fountain of knowledge" that is made available to these students.


Training approach

The Sediba Project has distinguished itself as a highly successful training approach.

The approach is characterised by an emphasis on content and conceptual knowledge, sufficient and direct contact between lecturers and students on campus, experienced and dedicated project staff and efficient management and administration – including continuous monitoring of the progress of students. The impact of the Sediba Project is more than the sum of its parts. The project not only provides students with an opportunity to develop their content and conceptual knowledge, but also to grow as individuals. Currently two Advanced Certificates in Education are used to train students:

  • ACE Physical Science Education (FET phase)
  • ACE Mathematics Education (FET phase)


Download the Sediba Brochure for full details of training through the Sediba Project.



The project is well-established with a proven track record. Since its origin in January 1996, a total number of 1283 teachers received the Advanced Certificates in Education (ACE). More than 30 000 learners are exposed to the physical science and mathematics teachers currently enrolled through the Sediba Project as one teacher touches about 175 learners annually.


Quality assurance

Evaluation of the quality of academic programmes at South African universities is the responsibility of the Higher Education Quality Committee (HEQC). During the period 2006 - 2007, this committee selected a number of ACE, PGCE and BEd programmes at universities throughout the country for evaluation. One of the selected programmes was the ACE in (physical) science education presented through the Sediba Project. The first part of the evaluation consisted of drafting a thorough self-evaluation report that explains all working practices in detail, including those related to administration, management, infrastructure, programme design, recruitment, staffing, teaching and learning, assessment, throughput rates and quality control of the science education programme. The self-evaluation report was sent to the HEQC for evaluation.

In the second part of the evaluation, a HEQC panel visited Potchefstroom for three days during May 2007 to conduct interviews with lecturers, administrative staff, managers, and former and current Sediba students. The panel also visited classrooms, computer rooms and laboratories, and examined evidence presented to support the working practices explained in the self-evaluation report.

Following the evaluation, the Accreditation Committee of the HEQC recommended the full accreditation of the Sediba science education programme. The report found that all aspects of programme delivery met the required national standards. Sediba was specifically commended for the quality of staff provision, intellectual leadership and student throughput rates, which were described as commendable for a programme that maintains high academic standards.


The quality of the Sediba Project is further ensured in the following way:

  • Adherence to the Quality Policy of the Faculty of Natural Sciences that governs day-to-day academic activities, such as assessment and moderation.
  • Annual evaluation of the quality of content, administration and management by enrolled students.
  • Regular reports on the state of the project by commissioned by sponsors and potential sponsors.
  • Monitoring of the activities of the Sediba Project by an Advisory Board made up of representatives from the various stakeholders. Activities are continually evaluated and the results presented to the board members at an annual meeting.


Community involvement of staff

The staff members of the SMTE subject group contribute to the community through workshops and a Science Centre located at the Potchefstroom Campus of the NWU. A number of staff members participate in the annual science week held at the Science Centre and some are involved in the development of apparatus and activities for practical work at school level through the MyLAB project.


Future initiatives

In July 2011 the Minister of Education signed into effect new minimum requirements for teacher education qualifications (National Qualifications Framework Act 67 of 2008). These requirements impact on the professional development of teachers. Firstly, the Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) should be phased out. Secondly, ACE students will no longer be allowed into BEdHons programmes. The minimum requirements specifically state that the prerequisite for an honours programme is an appropriate first degree.

In response to these changes, the Faculty of Education Sciences is currently investigating the viability of these new qualifications:

  • Advanced Certificate in Teaching (ACT) This qualification can be used to train students with M+3 to the M+4 level – much like the ACE qualification is currently utilised. The new qualification is on NQF level 6.
  • Advanced Diploma in Education (ADE). This qualification can be used to train students to be "master teachers". The qualification allows for the further development of students that are already in possession of an ACE qualification. It could bridge the gap left by the inability of ACE students to articulate to the new BEdHons at NQF level 8. This ADE qualification is on NQF level 7.


Brief history of the Sediba project

The origin of the Sediba project can be traced back to the mid-eighties when Corrie du Toit, Faan Nel, Nic Vreken and Jan Smit from the Departments of Physics and Chemistry at the then PU for CHE started a unit to develop study material to improve science teaching at secondary school level. This initiative lead to the establishment of the Sediba Project in 1996, which in turn lead to the establishment of the School of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education in the Faculty of Natural Sciences in 1999.

Sediba was a new concept – collaboration between North West Department of Education, Naschem (Denel) as sponsor and the university as service provider. The development of the project was not always plain sailing and several stumbling blocks had to be overcome. The growth and successes of the Sediba Project can be attributed to the close partnership between the three stakeholders, the motivation of the educators and the devotion of the lecturers.

Prof Jan Smit (formed Director of the School of Science, Mathematics and Technology) described the nature of the Sediba project as follows: "Sediba is more than a group of students enrolled for a qualification. Bonds of friendship and trust are forced between students and between students and lecturers. Alumni often request advice or assistance from their former lecturers and many continue with postgraduate studies at the university. It is not easy to identify all the factors that contribute to the unique character of the Sediba Project, but these certainly include an appreciation for the beauty of science and mathematics."

Download the Sediba 10th anniversary newsletter to learn more about the history of the project.