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Comparative Study of American and South African Primary Education


Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Venda, South Africa

Program Description

We will explore four regions of South Africa in our comparative study of primary education. To examine the factors of geography, history, culture, the arts, economics and politics as they affect education, we will travel to KwaZulu-Natal to explore the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game reserve and the St. Lucia Estuary before heading to Durban to see the traditional home of the Zulus.  From there we move to the Venda region of the country in Limpopo Province to spend two weeks living with host families, running a winter intercession school program for fourth through seventh grade students, and exploring the countryside at the Tropic of Capricorn. On our return to Gauteng Province, we will make a stop at Kruger National Park for some game drives to see "the big 5" before traveling through the scenic route to visit Blyde River Canyon to see the Three Rondavels and Bourke's Potholes and do some hiking.

Once we arrive in the capital city of Pretoria, we will live in University of Pretoria housing for two weeks as we meet with UP faculty and students from the Early Childhood Department to learn more about primary education, teacher education programs, and the issues South Africa faces to educate all learners equitably. During this time we will work in a township school, assisting teachers and providing professional development workshops that afford us opportunities to share what we are learning through our experiences in the schools. Visits to the Voortrekker Museum, government buildings,Freedom Park, as well as visual and performing arts programs will provide the socioculture background for our understanding of this area . Our experience ends with a visit to Cape Town where we will explore Robben Island, the prison for the nation's leaders in the fight for democracy, the wine lands, Table Mountain, and other cultural and historic sites.

Location Description

South Africa is on the southern tip of the African continent. Our travels will take us from the northernmost province of Limpopo where we will cross the Tropic of Capricorn to see ancient baobab trees and giraffes, kudu, and zebra in the natural habitats. Mpumalanga Province, home to Kruger National Park and the "Big Five" and Blyde River Canon offer stark geographical contrasts in the landscape. Gauteng Province is home to Johannesburg, the "Place of Gold," and Pretoria, the nation's capital as well as anthropological sites for the beginnings of humankind. Cape Town, at the southern-most tip of the country, is home to the country's garden district, winelands, and Table Mountain as well as historical reminders of the country's fight for democracy.


Teresa Harris | | Early Childhood, Elementary, & Reading Education


We will stay with families for the two weeks we are in Venda; we will stay in university housing for the two weeks we are in Pretoria. Prior to departure for Venda and during our time in Cape Town we will stay in hotels. All meals are provided in the program fee.

Additional Items to Consider

Passports with at least 4 blank pages are required. Cell phones with air time are provided for pairs of students; air time for calls outside of the program are not covered by the program fee. All in-country transportation is covered as part of the program fee and provided by ZOTE International, the people with whom we have worked since 2008.

This program is targeted towards graduate students and designed specifically for education students.

Application Process

For this program, students are required to submit the following material(s):

  • A supplemental essay addressing the following questions:
    • What do you hope to gain from the experiences provided through this study abroad experience?
    • What do you plan to contribute to the study abroad experience?
  • Attend an interview with the program director prior to the application deadline: Teresa Harris | | Early Childhood, Elementary, & Reading Education

  • Submit a completed Faculty recommendation form.

Applicants must have a GPA minimum of 2.75.

For more detailed instructions and to download the application, please click on the following link to the Applications and Forms section for JMU Short-Term Programs.

Official transcript required for first-semester transfer students and non-JMU students.

Application Deadline


All dates are tentative and subject to change


ELED 501: Special Topics in Elementary Education: Comparative Study of Primary Education (3 credits)

ELED 510: Creativity and the Arts in Elementary Education (3 credits)