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Balancing Education and Creativity: An Interview with Lungelo Mthembu-Salter

Lungelo's involvement at JET spans various research and implementation projects, including initiatives and projects such as NASCEE and VVOB. From coordinating community practices to transcribing, conducting interviews, writing abstracts and producing reports, he has had the opportunity to contribute to meaningful work at JET. He has been involved in significant reports and fieldwork for various projects, often pushing him out of his comfort zone. He attributes much of his growth to the guidance and support of his colleagues, especially during challenging fieldwork assignments.

At its core, Lungelo believes that JET's work is driven by the desire to make a positive impact by ensuring access to quality education. Lungelo believes “education is not only a means of empowerment but also a vehicle for understanding our collective history and diverse perspectives.” He is drawn to creativity, in terms of finding innovative solutions to complex problems through creative expression such as music, art and writing. A few significant highlights for Lungelo were integrating visual art into a theory of change design, which inspired new perspectives, hosting reading hours that incorporate diverse forms of engagement with diverse topics and presenting at the LITASA conference was a new, yet nerve-wracking, but rewarding experience. Lungelo has also been heavily involved in international projects such as the UNESCO TVET initiative, where he had the privilege of collaborating with diverse stakeholders across different countries, resulting in a published report.

While his background in research and literature review remains consistent across all projects, Lungelo has also had the opportunity to work closer with the JET Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) and Implementation units, highlighting the interconnectedness within JET teams and units.

JET's commitment to being a research-led organisation and the important role it plays in education are achievements Lungelo admires. The culture of care and support fostered by JET's management empowers staff to reach their full potential. Lungelo’s journey at JET continues to be one of growth, learning, and a commitment to driving positive change through education and creativity. Among his main focuses, this year will be working hard on his upcoming Masters in AI-based research.

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