Alumni Showcase: Henriette van Twisk

ALUMNUS ALERT: Henriette van Twisk, Da Vinci Institute’s Master’s Degree Alumnus (2021)


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Henriette, through dedication and commitment has uniquely placed herself as an expert aspiring to make a long-lasting contribution to the field of education, a crucial area towards sustainability. Now armed with a master’s degree from The Da Vinci Institute, and even prior to her having obtained the mentioned qualification, Henriette has been confronting some of the burning issues in recent times – conundrums within the education sector and specifically at the college level.

Her dissertation, a diagnostic study, is titled: Summative Evaluation of a Foundational Learning Programme for Technical and Vocational Colleges in South Africa. Henriette states that its chief aim “is to answer the question: Can a foundational learning programme create a learning foundation that will facilitate better pass rates when students enrol at TVET colleges?” A corollary to this question is, “to design, develop and implement a foundational learning programme for TVET [Technical and Vocational Education and Training] Colleges to address the challenges of high dropout and failure rates”, says Henriette.

Furthermore, Henriette admits that little was she aware, “that this [study] would become part of my life for four years” and would afford her the opportunity of helping “to provide thousands of students a second chance in order for them to further study and enhance their employability chances.” According to Henriette, “the programme has subsequently been adopted as a permanent fixture in the TVET environment; and whilst it still needs further research and refinement, it is a small step in the right direction.”

Perchance, the influence that may have led to her unquenched interest in education was partly sparked by her working experience background. Henriette, in her own words, accords that she began her “career as a journalist and that set the tone for the rest of my career. After twelve years in various operational management positions at a well-known recruitment company, I joined a private training provider in the capacity as a curriculum developer. Two years later I started my own company focusing on instructional design and curriculum development.” It was during this period that she developed seven vocational qualifications and a proliferation of short courses for blue-chip companies and training institutions, both public and private.

Indeed, her passion for education coalesces well with her past work-related experiences, and for this, Henriette credits her “persistence, patience and insatiable curiosity”. In addition, Henriette concedes, albeit touchingly, that upon her contracting cancer in the year 2012, “I did not think I would ever finish my masters. I also did not have anything that I felt passionate enough about to consider worthy of a master’s degree. It has been a very tough journey but I know that I have put everything into what is but a small contribution to solving the burning educational issues in South Africa.”

Henriette explains that throughout her journey she reiterated to herself that where there is a will there is a way and as an adjunct to that she continues that she “certainly was not alone on this journey of discovery and I can only pay tribute to the many TVET officials who entered uncharted waters with me and provided frank input – working together, to create the programme that we did.”

When asked what is next in her path of remarkability, Henriette accords that she chiefly intends “to continue researching and publishing topics related to my dissertation, to [add to her learning] and share knowledge.” A lucid and clear-thinking Davincian, Henriette advises our students to “not try and write a dissertation on a topic that you are not passionate about. It is hard work, and you need to accept that completing a dissertation becomes a way of life. Set goals for yourself, have a timetable, and stick to it!”

Henriette van Twisk is perfectly touched by the fervour of remarkability and embodies a profound sense of responsibility, especially in the endeavours she gravitates toward, ergo so passionately. It seems, no matter how much progress she achieves, Henriette would always remain out in the front, leading herself toward a better, more beautiful realm of remarkability – and may she enjoy the path!