South African teacher flourishing in ECE sector in NZ

South African teacher flourishing in ECE sector in NZ


Yolanda Smit had been an early childhood education (ECE) professional in South Africa for 20 years when, in 2009, she and her husband decided to move their family to New Zealand.

Upon arriving in the country, she learnt that she needed further study to be able to register as an early childhood teacher with the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand.

“I realised that the only way I would be able to work as a registered early childhood teacher was to study, so I decided to enrol as an international student while applying for residency,” said Smit.

With a 35 year history of providing New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) approved ECE programs ranging from certificate to master’s level, and flexible modes of learning that would enable Smit to balance her studies with work, family and other commitments, New Zealand Tertiary College (NZTC) was the perfect choice.

She enrolled to study a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Early Childhood Education), which would equip her with the knowledge and skills to practice as an early childhood teacher in New Zealand, as well as make her eligible to apply for teacher registration upon graduating.

“At first it was challenging studying again after many years. I was in a new country and online study was a whole new field for me but after submitting my first assignment, I understood it better,” Smit explained.

The college’s Blended Learning mode enabled Smit to combine the flexibility of online study with face-to-face learning and practical experience, including tutorials, Block Courses and Field Practice.

“At Block Courses I had the opportunity to meet fellow students and offer and receive support with any questions in person, while NZTC Online enabled me to connect with lecturers and other students online and engage in discussions about assignments,” she said. 

Throughout her studies, she made use of NZTC’s extensive support system available to students, which includes dedicated teams on hand to help with anything from academic queries and IT problems, to adjusting to life in New Zealand.

Today, Smit is the head teacher at a day care centre, where she manages a team of early childhood teachers and plays an active role in ensuring the smooth operation of the centre.

“The knowledge that I gained from studying with NZTC has helped me to become an effective ECE teacher using a holistic approach and embracing each child’s unique personality and potential.”