In Total fifty-three South African Graduates departed for Japan during July, August and September, 2019 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 (2018), the programme had 5 528 participants from 54 countries. Since South Africa joined the JET Programme in 1997, 655 South Africans have participated in the programme with this year’s group bringing the number up to 707.

To apply for the JET Programme through the Embassy of Japan in South Africa, applicants should be South African citizens and have a bachelor’s degree in any field.  Application forms for the 2020 Programme are already available with the submission deadline being Friday 8 November, 2019.  Participants will be shortlisted by April, 2020 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.  TheJET Programme has an excellent reputation and is fully backed by the Government of Japan.

One of this year’s participants, Louise Theron from Port Elizabeth, says that the group is departing for a new adventure. “Together we have the privilege of being selected to represent South Africa in Japan to further international exchange between our countries.

Louise was previously working in the PR industry and through her dealings with Japan related topics became aware of the JET Programme.  She concluded by saying, “We thank the Embassy of Japan as well as the JET Programme for making this journey possible, and we look forward to fully immersing ourselves in Japan’s rich culture.”

“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 2020 are already available on the Embassy of Japan website – http://www.za.emb-japan.go.jp/itpr_en/jet_programme.html. The application deadline is Friday, 8 November 2019 and applicants will be shortlisted in April and May 2020, with departure to Japan scheduled for September 2020.

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