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2-year National Diploma in Early Childhood Development (3 – 6 years)

Course Details

The National Diploma in Early Childhood Development recognises that training in early childhood education with a Montessori specialisation requires a breadth of understanding and varied set of skills as well as specific attitudes to children.

The two-year Level 5 National Diploma in Early Childhood Development (SAQA ID: 23118) will allow graduates to work as fully qualified early childhood educators in South Africa and to register with the South African Council for Educators (SACE).

  • Orientation and Montessori Biography
  • Study Skills
  • Montessori Philosophy
  • Childcare and Health
  • Reflective Practice
  • Activities of Everyday Living
  • Child Development
  • Education of the Senses
  • Numeracy and Arithmetic
  • Literacy
  • Knowledge and Understanding of the World
  • ECD in the South African Context
  • Classroom Management
  • Creativity
  • Material Making
  • Observation and Assessment
  • Diversity, Special Needs and Inclusion.

The Buccleuch centre offers a two-year part-time National Diploma programme with lectures from 09:00 – 16:00 on Saturdays during school term time.

The Cape Town, Nelspruit and Pretoria centres offer an 18-month full-time National Diploma programme. The lecture timetable for these programmes begins in February 2021 and runs until December 2021. Professional Placement must be completed between January and June 2022.

Lectures at the Cape Town campus are from Monday to Thursday from 14:00 to 18:00 during school terms.

Lectures at the Nelspruit campus are from Monday to Thursday from 08:30 to 12:30 during school terms.

Lectures at the Pretoria campus are from Monday to Thursday from 09:00 to 13:00 during school terms.

Please note that all lectures are compulsory as these hours form part of the final qualification requirements.

As part of the course requirements, students will be required to undertake and pass two 3-hour theory examinations and one practical examination.

This qualification includes a compulsory professional placement in a Montessori setting of at least 420 hours (approximately 16 consecutive weeks) during the second year of study.

This placement forms a central point of practical integration for the knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes developed over the course of the training. Students will be observed by a Placement Mentor from the setting as well as a Placement Tutor allocated by Montessori Centre South Africa.

MCSA assists with the placement of students for this part of the coursework requirements. Placements must be made within an 80km radius of the centre. Should external placements be required, these will be charged to the students.

Applicants for the National Diploma course must

  • Be aged 18 years or over.
  • Hold a Matric Certificate with a minimum of a Diploma pass. This means that students need to have passed 6 of the 7 subjects taken: 4 subjects must have been passed with at least 40%; Home Language must have been passed at 40% and there must be at least a 30% pass in the Language of Learning and Teaching.
  • In the absence of a Matric certificate as detailed above, students must provide proof of equivalence (i.e. for foreign school leaving certificates).
  • Be a South African citizen or permanent resident (or hold a full and relevant visa for the duration of the course).
  • Have access to a tablet, laptop or desktop computer, be computer literate, and have reliable Internet access.
  • If possible, attend an Information Session at one of our centres.
  • Complete the application form and return it with supporting documents to with the non-refundable application fee of R600.
  • On application you will be required to write a short literacy and numeracy entrance assessment. This is done online.
  • An appointment will then be made for an interview at the centre where you have applied. This may also be done telephonically.
  • Successful applicants will then receive an offer of study upon which the enrolment documents will need to be submitted with the payment of the enrolment fee in order to secure a place.


Enrolment fee R5 000 On enrolment
Course and lecture fee R39 600 Payable on enrolment. Arrangements may be made for paying this amount in instalments.
Theory Paper 1 R900 30 days prior to the exam date.
Theory Paper 2 R900 30 days prior to the exam date.
Practical Exam R1 800 30 days prior to the exam date.
Professional Placement Fee R5 500 Payable upon registration for the professional placement.
Total R53 700


I am about to complete my MCSA ECD Diploma, specializing in children ages 3 - 6. I had always believed in the education of the child, however was craving a new and more cosmic approach to education. I went into this course with the idea and ethos that all children need to be treated equally, and specifically that there is equality in all. This is exactly what I found. I have grown and learnt a great deal through this course. I have learnt a lot about myself, from time management to self-love, reverence and respect. My eyes have been opened to positive steps/progress in the future, the excitement for the new generations to come and the possibility to grow, develop and learn in a free, exciting, safe and productive environment. I have learnt and really understood the point and basis of our cosmic tasks, both within the young child and the adult.

This course has helped me view the world differently, and have the privilege to work with children in the Montessori classroom. I will forever see the world differently, touched by the child.

Stephanie Healy
National Diploma, 2016

My Montessori journey started in the early in 2010, when I decided to enrol at another Montessori College to do correspondence studies. I completed the course in 2013 and later found out that it was not accredited. Imagine my despair?

I started doing the National Diploma in Early Childhood Development, through MCSA, in 2016 and I am nearly at the end of my studying journey.  The course is thorough, detailed, covers all aspects of ECD plus Montessori, is hands on as we worked with all the materials in every area of the curriculum. We had lots of guidance in the form of a tutor, the online portal, recommended reading, and videos of the way in which the material is to be presented. The modules are detailed and provide a wealth of knowledge and information and lastly, the professional practice allowed us the opportunity to be able to work with children in a Montessori environment and be able to grow towards becoming a Montessori teacher.

I have already been offered a permanent position as a Montessori educator starting in January 2018. My real Montessori adventure is about to begin and I am so excited!

National Diploma 2016

Montessori has changed not only my perspectives on children's holistic development, but it's also changed how I see myself!  I've learned the best possible ways to approach children and how to guide them to personal success.

The training I received was excellent. There was always assistance when we needed it!  Our lecturers were true to what they told us, as we could see the Montessori ethos in their own classrooms.

I wouldn't have wanted to study anywhere else!

National Diploma Graduate

Thank you Montessori Centre South Africa!  You have inspired me to reach great heights! 

National Diploma Graduate and Owner of The Banyan Tree Montessori

I would like to reach out and say the biggest, warmest and heartfelt thank you to all of you for the incredible support and experience I have had throughout my diploma with MCSA. You have all played an integral part in the planning, organising and delivery of an epic course that has forever changed my life.

Susanne, Kirsty, Tasnim and Sam a very special thank you as lecturers. You are all incredible role models, setting the highest standards that I will continue to admire and strive to achieve as I grow and learn.


National Diploma Graduate