University of Pretoria: UP Pre-University Academy learners take part in global knowledge-sharing initiative

Over five weeks 28 high school learners from the University of Pretoria Pre-University Academy (UP-PUA) took part in a global knowledge-sharing initiative that gave the learners the chance to discuss university life with students from five countries around the world.

Students from the University of Pretoria, India’s ICFAI Foundation for Higher Education, Morocco’s Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, the USA’s Merrimack College, and Iraq’s Tishk International University took part in the programme, which gave the learners exposure to cultural and other differences between various countries and universities.

Each week a different group of students consisting of one student from each university presented a session to the learners via the Zoom online video-calling platform. The sessions included information about movies and entertainment, music and dance, food and festivals, and fashion.

A facilitator from each university monitored the process. The facilitators were Dr Martina Jordaan for the University of Pretoria, Dr Bkashara Rao for the ICFAI Foundation for Higher Education, Prof Nour El Houda Chaoui for Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, Prof Audrey Falk for Merrimack College, and Dr Samira Saeed for Tishk International University. The facilitators are all country directors of the Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (

“I learned a lot from the different countries,” said Neo Molekoa, a Grade 9 learner who attends the UP-PUA. “I learned about different cultures, dances, music, and food varieties that I didn’t know much about.”

The learners enjoyed interacting with students from different countries. They reflected on their experience and indicated that it helped grow their ability to be receptive to new ideas, which aids self-directed or autonomous learning. They acquired and improved their soft skills, including teamwork, problem-solving, and practical oral and communications skills.

Creating a greater global awareness also enhanced students’ and learners’ ability to work collaboratively with persons from diverse backgrounds.