As part of the exchange programme, TUT Education students are handpicked to spend two weeks in the Netherlands once a year, during which they get to teach at Dutch schools, among others. In addition, Windesheim students visit South Africa annually, not only to experience the culture, but also to teach, mostly at rural schools in the Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces. These experiences have been life changing.
Windesheim, situated in Zwolle, is one of the top universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands. It is known for its personal approach and for working closely with the business community and public institutes.
This year’s Dutch students (12) have just returned to the Netherlands after spending two weeks in South Africa, while five TUT students will travel to the Netherlands in September. It will be the first time that Abigail Hlatshwayo (27), Zoleka Twala (21), Gilbert Mangwale (23), Sharon Maelane (23) and Sibongile Mpinga (23) travel abroad.
The driving forces behind the programme is TUT’s Dr Laura Coetzer, a lecturer at the School of Education, and Teresa Pedro Gomes, a lecturer at Windesheim University. They have an inextinguishable passion for education, especially honing the new generation of teachers.
Dr Coetzer said 92 Dutch students and 32 TUT students have benefited from the exchange programme since its inception. Pedro Gomes said the exchange programme also has a strong research focus and that a poster presentation has been made at a conference of the British Council, hosted in Cape Town two years ago, and that another research paper has been submitted.
Prof Elsabe Coetzee, Interim Rector of the Soshanguve Campus, lauded her staff for their dedication and passion towards the programme and explained to the Dutch delegation the hunger among the poorest of the poor in the country to become educated. In this regard, she said that only one out of 11 applications to study at TUT can be accepted.
She said that the exchange programme has had a significant impact on the standard of students who graduate in this discipline. “Students who have participated in the exchange programme are the ones who will change schools one day,” she added.
Tomas van der Heide (18), an Education student from Windesheim, who has just completed the programme, said that it was very different to what he has imagined. He told how he was amazed at having to teach a class of 80 learners (which is unheard of in the Netherlands!), but also touched by their eagerness to learn something, even though they have so little. He thanked South Africans for their hospitality, love and friendship, saying that they really know how to receive someone.
Photographed during a function to celebrate a student exchange programme between TUT and the Windesheim University in the Netherlands are (from the left): Dick Bosch (Windesheim), Dr Laura Coetzer (TUT School of Education), Teresa Pedro Gomes (Windesheim), and Prof Elsabe Coetzee, Interim Rector of the Soshanguve Campus.
Tomas van der Heide (18), Education student at the Windesheim University, said the exchange programme has been