Far away from the UK, NEC has helped one woman qualify for a second career and start planning a business that will have an impact on a whole community.
American citizen Keziah Mwanyika knows just where she wants her career working with children to take her. She has her sights set on running her own pre-school and nursery in the small town in Tanzania where her husband’s parents come from, on the border with Zambia. She’s been living in Africa with her husband, a film-maker, since and works five days a week as a pre-school teacher. Home for Keziah, her husband and their two small daughters is a tiny apartment in the city of Dar es Salaam in eastern Tanzania.
Many of the foreign parents Keziah comes into contact with through the pre-school work for NGOs dealing with education and health. Recognising that her own experience in those areas was limited, she decided to do something about it and in 2013 started studying for a Diploma in Pre-school Practice with NEC, passing two years later.
A good student when she was at school and university in the States, Keziah had dreamt of becoming an artist. She left formal education qualified to work as a nursing assistant, helping care for people at home, and spending as much time in art classes as she could. Only when she arrived in Africa in 2009 did she begin working with children. She took to it immediately and started to keep her ears open for a way of getting qualified.
She chose distance learning because the classroom-based courses on offer in Tanzania last for up to four years – longer than she felt able to commit to. Once she’d investigated other options available online and in America, she chose NEC because she was impressed by the quality of its courses, value for money and established reputation. A personal recommendation from someone who had studied with NEC while they were living abroad clinched her decision.
How did Keziah’s first experience of distance learning live up to expectations? She liked the straightforwardness of the course materials, relying on her mum in the States to ship in books she couldn’t get hold of in Tanzania. ‘The curriculum is directly useful for my work – much more than I expected,’ explains Keziah. ‘Every single thing I studied I have used in my job. I’m really conscious of my practice having developed as a result.’
What she hadn’t planned on was getting pregnant. ‘I swear I felt morning sickness for the first three months every time I picked up my course! I gave birth mid-way through my studies and for the last 18 months read and wrote assignments with a tiny baby at my side,’ says Keziah. ‘Without the flexibility of distance learning and the six-month extension NEC agreed, I couldn’t have coped.’
Keziah is full of praise for the tutor support she received as part of her course. ‘If you have a tutor you click with, it makes all the difference. What I needed was someone who would answer all my questions, no matter how silly they seemed to me. That’s just what happened with both my tutors, particularly the second.’
Summing up her time as an NEC student, Keziah says: ‘Distance learning is ideal for parents of young children because you can study at your own pace and at any time you want. Many a night I spent studying when my two daughters were sleeping. If I can improve my qualifications, as an American living in Africa, and have a baby at the same time, anyone can!’
To find out more about NEC, our students, and the flexible support we offer through our distance learning courses, get in touch and see how we can help you to fit more learning into your life.