Helga Engelbrecht, a Hospitality lecturer from Northlink TVET College Protea Campus, was recently chosen to represent the College on the Burgandy Exchange Program to France. The exchange program took place from 20 June -20 July 2015. The visit demonstrated the importance of the exchange programme and the improvement that it could bring to hospitality skills development at TVET Colleges.
This was the first time that Helga visited France and experienced the French culture. According to her…there are more foreigners than local people in France that brought with them more of a relaxed feeling – a “nothing to rush” approach.
Says Helga on the purpose of her visit to France: “The main purpose of this programme is to expose lecturers from both regions to institutional culinary art training in order to gain international work based experience, as part of continuing professional development. It is also agreed that, based on the success of the lecturer exchange programme, student exchange programmes may follow in future years.
Western Cape Government has a longstanding cooperation agreement with the Burgundy Regional Council in France. Based on this agreement a hospitality lecturer exchange programme has been established between Western Cape Technical Vocational Education and Training Colleges and Lycée Le Castel, a High School of Technological and Vocational Education in Dijon. We had to write a motivational letter on why we think we deserve to go.
So what makes France and their educational system different from that of South Africa? “They are stricter about things. The lecturers and students are very serious about everything they do. The Hotel School is extremely well-managed and students are encouraged and taught to use their initiative. They are quite competent in handling unexpected situations. Lycee le Castel has a restaurant and bakery that operates as a business unit. All pastry, bakery and culinary products made during practical classes are sold to staff, students living at the hostel and the public. In this regard, Northlink TVET College is on par with Lycee le Castel because Encore and the Protea Training Restaurant are operational and productive,” adds Helga.
She believes that South African educational staff i.e. lecturers and even teachers need to teach and breed a life philosophy of “we can take anything that comes our way” so that our students can adapt to change as well as have the discipline to keep to the tasks that are at hand.
Kelly Leng is an intern in the Communication Marketing and Advancement team of Northlink TVET College.