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Our custom programs encourage Professional Development through hands-on experiences, fieldwork, and project-based learning. We want our students to be more competitive professionally but also recognize the variety of professional opportunities that exist in the world and in Africa in particular.

Transformative Learning | Professional Development

Our Transformative Learning series aims to unpack each one of our Transformation Goals. For higher education, these are Intercultural Competence, Global Citizenship, Personal Growth, Intellectual Growth, and Professional Development). We take a closer look at why we chose these goals and how we aim to encourage growth through our custom school, faculty-led, and virtual exchange programs.

Why do we focus on Professional Development?

We want our students to be more competitive professionally as a result of our programs but also recognize the variety of professional opportunities that exist in the world and in Africa in particular. Having our students gain new skills, articulate those skill gains, and widen their professional networks and perspectives is vital to our vision for student transformation – on average, people spend over 90000 hours at work. Our hope for our students is that they will not merely embark on careers, but follow a vocation – and that our programs, even if only in some small way, will help them do so.

How do we encourage Professional Development?

Our programs include a customizable mixture of hands-on experiences; fieldwork (if applicable); and project-based learning in a variety of fields, depending on the time students have and the nature of their engagements. These itinerary inclusions are coupled with focused reflection sessions that encourage students to articulate and identify the skills they are developing or honing, from plant propagation techniques to intercultural patient care, to public speaking and virtual presentations – the list is varied. We also encourage students to think through our other goal areas as opportunities for professional development, as intercultural competence, global citizenship, a keen and confident sense of self, and intellectual robustness are all competitive and compelling professional competencies in the 21st century.

What is Professional Development?

Professional development can mean many things – specialized training, furthering formal education, and learning new skills. As one of EDU Africa’s transformation goals, the term refers to developing and articulating practical professional skills and competencies in our programs. It has a second component linked to it as well, which is linked to industry and opportunity awareness in the country of study. The professional development gains of studying abroad are well documented1, but like all our transformation goals, intentionality is required in order for growth to be achieved.

Our learning outcomes for Professional Development are that students:

  1. Acquire and articulate hard and soft skills during study abroad
  2. Understand applications of professional competencies in the African context
  3. Connect insights gained during study abroad to wider future career objectives


Explore our Faculty-led or Virtual Exchange program opportunities and Request a Proposal when you are ready to collaborate.



Dr Heidi Barends, EDU Africa

Heidi Barends, PhD | Academic Director

Heidi holds a PhD in English Language and Literature from the University of Cape Town where she was involved in research and teaching from 2014-2018. She was also a faculty member at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology from 2015-2018. Heidi’s work in programming at EDU Africa is an ideal translation of her research interests – she is passionate about ethical exchange between African countries and the rest of the world, and EDU Africa offers her a platform to achieve this.


Farrugia, Christine & Sanger, Jodi. Gaining an Employment Edge: The Impact of Study Abroad on 21st Century Skills & Career Prospects in the United States. IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research and Impact. 2017.  

Vaugh, Kassandra. “You will spend 90,000 hours of your lifetime at work. Are you happy?” Medium. May 5 2018.