Name: Kethmini Liyanage
NZTC Qualification: Postgraduate Diploma in Education (ECE)
What motivated you to move to New Zealand to study early childhood education?
I am from an education background. I was an English academic tutor in Sri Lanka and completed my masters in linguistics before coming here. Sri Lanka has many opportunities in regards to early childhood education. It has become a booming field. New Zealand is one of the best places to study early childhood education and there are many opportunities where I can work and practice in the field.
How long have you been in New Zealand and how have you found it so far?
I have been here for nearly a year. I work as a relieving teacher in early childhood centres on a casual basis. I find it very interesting to learn about care in new places. It is sometimes challenging because I miss my family and friends and had to learn to be distant from loved ones. I needed to build a new community of people and make a network in a new place.
How have you found studying at NZTC?
NZTC is one of the best places to study early childhood education. I think the lecturers are very caring. They motivate us, support us and they are very inspiring. Also the NZTC Online method of learning allows flexibility. When I first began it was a challenge because I didn’t have much exposure to online learning but we were assisted by the College and now it is another skill that I have developed.
What has your biggest accomplishment been while studying?
My biggest accomplishment was presenting at the 2016 NZTC Symposium. I did a poster presentation comparing Sri Lanka and New Zealand when it comes to leadership in ECE. I considered the similarities and differences in both countries as a comparative analysis.
What were your reasons behind wanting to undertake this research and what did you discover?
I wanted to expose myself to the NZTC Symposium and present my research. I found many things such as in New Zealand there’s inclusion of many cultures as well as children with special needs however in Sri Lanka you do not find this so much. In New Zealand you learn through play – this is a major concept here but in Sri Lanka it is both play and classroom learning. Government agencies are also involved more in New Zealand and there is a curriculum that is compulsory and considered in every aspect of ECE here. I also found differences in leadership and organisation.
What has the biggest challenge been and how have you managed to overcome it?
I need to work, be with family, study as well as extracurricular and community activities. The biggest challenge has been time management. With a postgraduate qualification, it is study at a higher level. You need to put more effort and time into the academic requirements.
Do you have any advice for people wanting to study early childhood education?
They need to really love being in the education field and love children as well as be ready to put your whole self into your studies. You might think that early childhood education is a simple task but it is a responsible as well as a physical job. There is a lot of depth. That’s why you need to learn, get a qualification, work and gain experience to find out the reasons behind why we do what we do in ECE.