Learning across cultures

I am a grade one educator. In 2003 my school nominated me for the National Teaching Awards and I won the category of Excellence in Early Childhood Development (ECD) at provincial level.

The following year the national department of education nominated me to take part in the Youth Invitation Programme held in Japan for a month – from September to October 2004. The news was too good to be true. It was not until I boarded a Japan-bound plane that I realised I was not in dreamland.

When I arrived in Japan I met teachers from other parts of the world, but was particularly glad to interact with those from my own continent.

They came from countries such as Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Botswana, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Tanzania. It was an enriching experience for me and I learned a lot from engaging with them.

In Japan we studied the country’s education system by visiting kindergartens, primary and secondary schools and colleges and universities. We observed their teaching methods, techniques and approaches, classroom organisation and management.


Our visit was not only confined to educational institutions. Each one of us stayed with a Japanese family for one week to observe and understand their lifestyles and their language. It was a wonderful experience to represent my country abroad and to participate in such an insightful programme.

I owe this to the department of education for acknowledging and recognising committed and dedicated teachers through the inspiring initiative of the National Teaching Awards. I applaud them for sending me on such a worthwhile journey.

It made me realise that hard work and commitment pay. Since the trip I have felt energised and motivated to work even harder.

To all educators out there, let us continue to commit ourselves to the service of our learners and communities.

Together we can make a difference. I would also like to thank God for all the achievements because it is by His grace and mercy that I was able to be among those who made the trip. Arigato (Thank you very much in Japanese).

Matlale Reshoketsoe Leshilo is a grade one teacher at Bogalatladi Primary School in Atok, Limpopo

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