Clinical Professor, Higher Education
"[Studying abroad in South Africa] is a life-changing experience for my students. What affects them most is speaking with people who had been directly involved in the struggle to transform South Africa."
Teboho Moja brings a unique international perspective to her courses in higher education. Moja's home is South Africa, and experiences from her long history as a leader in education reform enliven her teaching.
As Special Advisor to the Minister of Education in South Africa, Moja was charged with making policy recommendations for the transformation of higher education in South Africa. Although she is no longer a formal advisor, she finds it essential to keep current with new developments in her home country and often serves on advisory committees or weighs in on policy debates. "We'll be discussing an issue in class,' such as inadequate resources, or school vouchers," she explains, "and I can say, 'Ok, let's see how South Africa has done it.' It's an effective way for the students to bridge the theoretical side and the practical side."
Moja currently serves on the board of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) Institute of International Educational Planning, a supranational body that determines priorities in education throughout the world.
But it is not enough simply to bring international experience to the classroom. Moja has gone one step further, taking her students to South Africa for a month-long study abroad program. "It is a life-changing experience for my students," she says of the program. "What affects them most is speaking with people who had been directly involved in the struggle to transform South Africa."
Learning about the activism of ordinary South Africans sparks an intense desire among the students to make changes at home. "It makes them start to examine themselves," Moja says. "They keep saying 'When I come back, what can I do?' They realize that they really could make a contribution."
Students also recognize the value of experiencing problems in education first hand compared to studying them from a distance. "To walk into a crowded classroom and see the kids seated right up to the door, and the teacher trying to find his or her way is quite an experience for them."
"For me, what is satisfying is that immediate relationship between what you are studying in class and the outside world," Moja says. "I find that very exciting," she continues. "That's what I'm doing here."