Africa networks teacher exchange program 2023 – South Africa and Finland universities collaborate in music education


Author Frank Ojwang, Project Coordinator of Africa Networks, Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä


The JYU Africa Network hosted two teachers from the University of Zululand (UNIZULU) in the autumn 2023 with funding from the Global Innovation Network for Teaching and Learning (GINTL) and Southern Africa and Finland Network on Mental Health and Well-being (SAFINET), and one teacher from the University of Pretoria (UP) was hosted in the spring of 2023 with funding from the International Visiting Fellowship (IVF) grant. The teacher exchange program was jointly coordinated by the University of Oulu (OY) and JYU and involved participation of the UNIZULU teachers in both OY and JYU.

A very comprehensive and elaborate program to cocreate pedagogical skills with the Finnish counterparts, and jointly engage in peer learning activities was developed jointly by OY and JYU in collaboration with the UNIZULU teachers that participated in the autumn program. The needs of UNIZULU specifically influenced the outline of the program as the goal of the teacher exchange was to build the capacity of the teachers in curriculum development, pedagogical techniques, peer learning and academic culture exchange.

Dr. Ntaka (circled in yellow) and Mr. Masedi (circled in red) from UNIZULU pose with the Music students after a joint teaching with JYU university teachers.

The two teachers from UNIZULU spent an intensive week in Oulu and another intensive week in Jyväskylä. The teachers engaged in joint teaching with the university teachers in OY and JYU, co-facilitated workshops, gave lectures at the university and the local music training school in Oulu, and at the university of applied sciences in Jyväskylä. The teachers also had bilateral meetings with the faculty at OY and JYU to learn more about the curriculum of the two institutions and gather insights that will enable UNIZULU to advance and complete the music program course outline. The OY and JYU students were receptive to the new teachers and actively participated in the sessions facilitated by Dr. Ntaka and Mr. Masedi.

The UNIZULU teachers interacted with the worldclass infrastructure for music course at OY and JYU. The interaction with the Finnish music teaching and learning infrastructure inspired a sense of innovation among the UNIZULU teachers in order to optimize learning for their students, and to expose the UNIZULU students to latest technologies and musical instruments. The teachers also learned how to play some new instruments, and also taught the OY and JYU teachers and students how to play some instruments. The musical instrument teaching happened in very relaxed setting where the teachers and students were able to freely make mistakes as they learn a new instrument.

Joint teaching exposed the UNIZULU teachers to Finnish learners and the pedagogical techniques used in the Finnish HEIs. “It was really interesting to see the body language of the students, I could tell that they were curious but interested to learn about South African music and instruments,” noted Mr. Masedi. The UNIZULU teachers appreciated the joint teaching experience and the guidance of the OY and JYU teachers throughout the lessons. They also enjoyed observing the OY and JYU teachers and how they interacted with their students in and out of class. “I am glad that we have met Jussi and Katja in Oulu, and Sanna and Eveliina in JYU. It makes a big difference when we meet in person and work together, side by side as that amplified learning for us as teachers,” said Dr. Ntaka.

The UNIZULU teachers engaged in social events and joined the OY colleagues at the researchers’ night in Linnanmaa campus, went on a road trip, joined photo exhibition events, shared dinner with students and teachers, visited museums, attended concerts and engaged in other social events that also introduced them to the Finnish society culture. The teachers further participated in choir rehearsals and mingled freely with the university community in Oulu and Jyväskylä. Additionally, the JYU campus and library tour gave a deeper perspective and history of the university infrastructure and the research resources in the JYU science center – Lähde.

Before departing for South Africa at the end of the teacher exchange, the UNIZULU teachers expressed their heartfelt gratitude to GINTL and SAFINET for enabling them to participate in the teacher exchange program. They shared that the exchange experience equipped them with knowledge on curriculum development, pedagogical skills, approaches to intercultural education and more importantly, the UNIZULU teachers appreciated their ability to make connections with OY and JYU researchers and teachers in music department. “This has been a priceless lifechanging moment and experience for me,” said Mr. Masedi on his last day.

The JYU Africa Networks wishes the UNIZULU teachers the best in their curriculum development process and looks forward to a strengthened collaboration with the existing partners in Southern Africa. A special thanks to GINTL for funding the UNIZULU teachers to participate in the SAFINET teacher exchange program in the autumn 2023.

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GINTL Finnish higher education institutions