Teaching exchange programme invites all to participate

01 August 2018 - 11:15 By times live
JET participants work as Assistant Language Teachers among Japanese teenagers at local authorities, as well as pre-schools, primary and high schools throughout Japan.
JET participants work as Assistant Language Teachers among Japanese teenagers at local authorities, as well as pre-schools, primary and high schools throughout Japan.
Image: Supplied

Forty-five South African Graduates left for Japan on Saturday, 28 July as part of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) programme, which is aimed at enhancing foreign language education and promoting international exchange between Japanese and foreign youth.

The Embassy of Japan PR officer, Kota Toba, said that the programme aims to enhance foreign language education and promote international exchange at the local level through the fostering of ties between Japanese teenagers and native English teachers from around the world. While working as an Assistant English Teacher (ALT) at local authorities, as well as public and private pre-schools, primary and high schools in Japan, JET participants can learn a lot about Japan in a variety of ways.

The JET Programme commenced in 1987 in cooperation with the governments of participating countries. Last year (2017), the programme had 5,163 participants from 44 countries. Since South Africa joined the JET Programme in 1997, 610 South Africans have participated in the programme with this year’s group bringing the number up to 655.

To apply for the JET Programme through the Embassy of Japan in South Africa, applicants should be South African citizens, have a bachelor’s degree in any field.  Application forms for the 2019 Programme will become available during the month of September with the submission deadline being Friday 9 November, 2018.  Participants will be shortlisted by April, 2019 following a thorough selection process, which incorporates tests and face-to-face interviews in Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

Toba said that participants are usually appointed by a contracting organisation in Japan for a one-year period, which can be extended for up to five years with a yearly performance evaluation. “The cost of transport from the participant’s country of origin to Japan, as well as remuneration, is funded by Japan’s tax payers via the contracting organisation where the participant is appointed JET programme has an excellent reputation and is fully backed by the Government of Japan.

One of this year’s participants, Storm Manson (23), said he is excited about his trip to Japan. “I will be working with the Sendai Board of Education at two schools – Koriyama Junior High School and Sendai Shiritsu Hachihonmatsu Elementary School – in the role of assistant language teacher, working alongside my Japanese Teacher of English. I also hope to join a few of the school's clubs and possibly the soccer team.”

Manson, who completed a degree in creative brand communications at VEGA in Cape Town in 2016, has always had a deep interest in Japan’s history and language. “Japanese culture has been a part of my life from a young age. My father is a third dan black belt in Karate and he passed many of the life lessons he learnt from his Japanese master on to me.

“I believe that through collaboration and discussions in education, we can create more global citizens to work together for a better tomorrow. The JET Programme is closely aligned with this ethos.

“My goal in life is to inspire my learners. The JET Programme will provide me with the opportunity to make a difference, as well as share my South African identity with Japanese people and hopefully encourage them to visit and positively engage with South Africa in the future,” Manson said.

Manson is grateful for the opportunity to further his Japanese language abilities and experience the rich history and beauty of Japan. “It is an honour to be a part of such an excellent initiative. In addition to inspiring my students to follow their dreams, I am looking forward to trying out all the delicious desserts that Japan is famous for,” said Manson.

“Through this cultural exchange we expect participants to become bridges between our two countries by sharing their experiences in Japan with the people of South Africa even after the programme is up. In this sense, we are happy that some former participants are currently working at the Embassy as local staff who assist us in our work here in South Africa. They are literally bridges between the two countries. These people-to-people exchanges are what Japan has been very keen to promote, and we would like to continue to provide such opportunities to the people of South Africa,” concludes Toba.

Application forms for young people interested in applying for next year will be available on the Embassy of Japan website in September 2018. The application deadline is Friday, 9 November 2018 and applicants will be shortlisted in April and May 2019, with departure to Japan scheduled for July 2019.