Celebrating
a centenary
of Learning

  • 77
  • by Momoko Muramatsu
  • graduated 2008
  • studied MEd in Educational Leadership, Policy and Development (ELPD)
  • from South Sudan, Tanzania, Japan, Republic of the Marshall Islands

After completing my study at Graduate School of Education, I got an opportunity to work for an international NGO in South Sudan and for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

I studied for the MEd in Educational Leadership, Policy and Development since I was interested in education in low-income countries, especially in regards to primary school education in African countries. I worked at a primary school before starting my postgraduate study and I also wanted to work internationally. This area of study is not very common and it was not easy to find universities which focus on this area. I eventually found some and choose the University of Bristol because of its reputation for quality of education and Bristol’s good atmosphere as a student town.

The university accommodation in which I was staying is located near both the school building of the Graduate School of Education (GSoE) and the city centre and it is very convenient. The theatre is also very close from the accommodation and I often went there to see the ballet and other spectacles. As well as studying, at Bristol, I belonged to a dance society and enjoyed learning ballet which took place at the student’s union. I also have pleasant memories of a coach trip to a chocolate factory with the Chocolate Society.

The programme itself was new and seemed filled with youthful vigour which was what I wanted. I focused on primary education in low-income countries, especially African countries, throughout my study at the GSoE. Although I was interested in this study I did not have any experiences of staying in such countries. Therefore, studying with students from various countries, especially those from countries in Africa was exciting for me and I enjoyed listening to their stories. I sometimes felt a bit confused about the different cultures. However, the experience has been helpful for me to understand, accept, adapt to and work in different cultural contexts.

The most wonderful and valuable experience was staying in Tanzania for several weeks to research for my dissertation. I had the opportunity, with my supervisor’s help, and stayed in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I was really excited as well as being nervous. Everything which I experienced there was new to me. It was my first introduction to a life without running water and electricity. It was hard for me, but I enjoyed it due to the kindness and support of the staff at University of Dar es Salaam and my host family. The research and life there were meaningful and fruitful, which has been useful for my later life.

Attending a colloquium of UNESCO in London, which was an international conference in which I took part for the first time, was also very memorable. People from a variety of positions, such as students from other universities and workers in the related field, joined the colloquium which made for a vigorous, exciting and educational experience.

My English ability was not so good and sometimes it was pretty hard for me to understand the classes. Although I improved my academic English skills and deepened my knowledge of my study area throughout the work on assignments and the dissertation. Achieving a degree in an English-speaking country has helped to remove the barrier of English as a requirement for applications in further studies and it has widened my opportunities for studying in higher education.

I was positively influenced by many teachers who supported my study at Bristol University. I learnt many things from them – the meaning of studying and the attitude required at postgraduate level, as well as the class contents of the programme. Especially, my supervisor Angeline Barrett had a great influence on me and supported the study that I really wanted to research and gave me opportunities in which I could broaden and deepen in my research. She has served as a good role model for me and I believe that my postgraduate study at Bristol University would not have been so successful without her.

After completing my study at GSoE, I got an opportunity to work for an international NGO in South Sudan and for the Embassy of Japan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Fortunately, I was involved in educational projects in each country and I could implement my experience and knowledge and also deepen my understanding of the field. If I had not studied at, and graduated from, GSoE University of Bristol, I would not have been rewarded with such wonderful opportunities.

Although the GSoE does not require work experience in the field you are applying for, I found that actually almost all students had previous work experience. I had experience as a school teacher but did not have any experiences in low-income countries, so sometimes it was difficult for me to understand the contexts which were talked about in the classes. It might be difficult for some people to get such opportunities before starting study at the course, like me, however, if there is such a chance, it definitely should not be missed and the experience will be useful for a deep understanding of your study.

The time at GSoE is limited but will be a very important and influential part of your life, therefore it is important to find something which you really want to do throughout the course and be persistent to make your study meaningful and satisfying. My time at Bristol University was really fruitful and memorable, and has played a very important role in my life. I sincerely appreciate all the people who supported my study in Bristol and I really hope that as many future students as possible will have such a fabulous experience at the Graduate School of Education.