Tag Archive | "Education"

The Price of Education

Poppy Vilakazi

After my Matric year I was determined to further my studies because it meant I would be the first in my family to go to varsity and finish my degree. My results were not sky high, but they did get me the university entrance I wanted. Without a plan or a Rand to my name, I registered for a course with a fancy name that I wasn’t too clued up about and spent the next 3 years at an institution using borrowed cash from a bank willing to “invest in a child” with interest rates designed for adults.

It was great – the environment was better than I had imagined. No cheesy American movie would have done the environment any justice. High school did not give me the slightest hint at just how liberating the sound of no school bell is. The freedom to work and study at my own discretion was too awesome for my juvenile-locked mind to envisage. As fun as the student parties were and as enlightening as my tutorials were, 3 years after varsity I only wonder if studying there at that time was the best choice I made.

No doubt we need an education; I’d join any SRC strike or student movement/ uprising to support that any day. But, I think a Gap Year would not have been a miscalculated idea at all. Sure, the risk of being lazy and doing nothing could have popped up during that time. Or, I could have landed a peanut-paying job at a small company and never again thought about opening a book. But, I believe that a gap year is not such a bad idea. Unless you know what you want to do, how you plan on doing it, where you want to do it, and most importantly WHY you want to do it, I say… wait!

With the wounds of student debt still refusing to heal today I wish I hadn’t made that hasty decision back in 2007. Did I like what I studied? Not really. Do I use what I studied in the office today? No, I don’t even work in an office! Would I do it again? Not so quickly.

Pops on set

Research was my Read the full story

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Bring Back the Johannesburg Central Library


South Africa is amazing country; we say one thing and then do the complete opposite! I am not sure what we attribute this attitude to, but all I know is that this problem needs to be sorted out, only if we take interest in our future well-being.

As I was writing this, I tried getting statistics on literacy rates for South Africa, but I got conflicting figures UNDP, Stats SA and others; so I am excluding statistics for the sake of clarity.

It is a generally held view that South Africa is not doing well in terms of literacy levels, and this has been proven time over by the various studies focusing on our student population. Others have gone as far as to say the blame should sit squarely on technology, as technology seems to have taken over our lives. I do admit that there are many reasons why people do not read, but leaving it at that would be too simplistic for me.

I have taken a look back and tried to assess what our government has done to improve things, and I am not impressed. This is not to say government has not done anything, just that they SHOULD have done better.

I am not sure if literacy can be divorced from the education system, but I thought I would take a somewhat neutral stand by focusing on libraries, for these are open to anyone who walks into them. While the state of many libraries is bad, particularly those located in townships and rural areas, I would like to concern myself with the biggest library in Johannesburg; which is the Johannesburg Central Library.

Besides the fact that is it centrally located, it happens to be about the only library in Johannesburg that is well-stocked. And, judging by the number of times I have been there, I would argue it is well-used. But, I am struggling to understand how the Gauteng government has decided to close the Johannesburg Central Library for over two years now. I am no expert but my simple logic tells me that because of its importance, if any major renovations were to be undertaken, that a temporary space would be made available for it to continue operating while its main building is being renovated. But, here lies the biggest library closed for over two years? How is this decision justified in the face of a public that takes no active interest in reading? By closing the only place where go to read in Johannesburg?

I had hoped that someone with clout would have brought this matter to correction by now. Where are civil society organisations? And of all organisations I had expected SADTU to be leading the fight to have the library reopened, but it, too, is silent.

How does one go about having this library reopened as a matter of urgency?

Please help to have the Johannesburg Central Library reopened.

Note: Okay, I must admit that I do not know by this day if the library is still closed because I cannot even find their contacts online. The City of Johannesburg is surprisingly quiet on this on their website; there is not a single contact number for the library, or any information that it is closed.


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What to look for when choosing a college

education_study options

Insight from Cobus Potgieter, founder and Managing Director of MSC Business College

Choosing a college can be a daunting and stressful decision in any young person’s life. Deciding what you are going to study, and where, is your first step to ensuring you will graduate with the right skills to find that all-important job and build your career.

It is vital to do your research and find the college that is the right match for you, in terms of cost, options, accessibility, quality and reputation. The process of researching and selecting a college should be done early, as making a rushed or ill-informed choice can result in a costly mistake. Even with a limited budget, you need to get the best quality you can afford and make sure you don’t waste precious money and time being taken for a ride by a fly-by-night college.

If you want your qualification to be valuable in the job market, you need to ensure that your college is fully accredited. It is important that your college of choice is registered with the Department of Higher Education and Training and is able to produce a registration number.

Of course, the quality and history of the college is of vital importance. One of the best ways to judge a college’s quality and the satisfaction of its students is to find out the percentage of students who return after the first year and the percentage of entering students who stay until graduation. Good retention and graduation rates are a sign that the college has good academic, social and financial support systems for students.

In order to make an informed and accurate decision, it is important to know what the field of study will be and what career options could arise from that particular qualification. Should there be uncertainty in terms of an intended career path, there are colleges that offer career guidance services. MSC Business College, for example, offers a Guidance Path System (GPS) – an online system that can assist potential students with choices about their future vocation.

Once a decision has been reached on your career path, you need to prioritise a list of criteria against which to evaluate potential colleges. When evaluating your options, the following should be considered:

  • Does the college offer degrees, certificates as well as diplomas?
  • What is the accreditation status of the degrees, certificates, diplomas and courses on offer? Ensure that proof can be provided on request.
  • What are the cost implications? Consider registration, study material and tuition fees. What are the hidden costs?
  • Does the college offer flexible payment plan options?
  • Does the college offer late registration options?
  • Are you able to take a short break in studies and pick up on further modules as you may need to?
  • What study resources are freely available to the students? Libraries, computer facilities and internet are important factors.
  • Does the college offer extracurricular activities and other social clubs that will enhance your student life?
  • Does the campus location suit you?
  • Are students uploaded to the National Learner’s Records Database (NLRD)?
  • What level of support services are provided to students?

Choosing a college is a major decision. Explore your interests and take the time to find the college that is right for you and puts you on a path to a brighter future.


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Is it too late to go to University?


You’ve achieved a Matric pass that now entitles you to go to university – but you forgot to register or you never thought about studying further, until now! Most public universities, including universities of technology, close their admissions between August and October the year before study, so now what do you do?

Many private tertiary institutions are still open for registration to obtain certificates, diplomas as well as Bachelor Degrees. Vega, for example, offers Bachelor of Arts in Communications Management and Bachelor of Arts: Brand Building and Management (closing date: 31 January 2012); and Varsity College offers a Bachelor Of Accounting Science (BCompt), Bachelor of Arts (BA) (Health Sciences and Social Services)(Psychological Counselling) (BAHSSS), Bachelor of Education (BEd ECD: Foundation Phase), Bachelor of Laws (LLB), Bachelor of Business Administration Marketing Management, Bachelor of Arts in Corporate Communication (BA(CC), and Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) – with application open until 23 January 2012.

The last day for late applications will differ from institution to institution – some even accept applications all year-round – so check the accredited list on www.careerplanet.co.za for more details. Also, bear in mind that private institutions do charge more than public institutions. Always ask about hidden costs such as registration fees and late application penalties to work out your budget or extra financing needs in advance.

If for any reason you do not get in or cannot afford tuition at a private training institution, there are still ways in which to make your year ahead useful. The facility called Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) and all institutions can assess whether education or work you do in 2012 can count towards one’s qualifications in 2013. In other words, when you to a university of your choice for 2013 (apply in June/July 2012 to make the application deadlines!) they can assess whether what you’ve done in 2012 can allow for some exemptions. For example:


  • Choose a one-year certificate Higher Certificate course (NQF Level 5 with some relationship to the ultimate course you aim to study) – for example, accounting if you intend studying for a BCom; or computer skills, which can be a valuable skills-set to add to your CV irrespective of the course you intend to study or if you decide to look for work without full-time study.
  • If you passed but your marks could be improved (say Maths), you could go to an FET college, and do a vocational courses which will also count towards a RPL assessment. You could also consider doing a Bridging Year to prepare for the various challenges you will encounter at the tertiary level.
  • Many people (especially those who have not chosen a direction) find that a gap year or a working year contributes to their maturity and that they are more committed at the end of it. Explore internship opportunities, part-time jobs, volunteer placements and learnership opportunities to gain experience as well as practical knowledge. For trainee, intern and bursary opportunities still accepting applications in 2012, visit the Career Planet website.

For more study and career information, visit www.careerplanet.co.za


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I failed Matric – now what?

This year, over 620 000 candidates sat down to write their final exams. While some passed with flying colours, others will be left feeling frustrated with their grades – faced with even tougher prospects of finding work when one in two young South Africans is already jobless.

“Matric is often mistakenly seen as a do-or-die situation,” says Resilience Therapist and Lecturer Janine Shamos. “The trick is for Matriculants to learn from their mistakes – failing Matric or not doing as well as you’d hoped does not have to be the end of the road! From supplementary exams to university programmes, like the Midrand Graduate Institute’s Pre-degree Programme – the trick is to explore ALL your options!”

So, what are my options?

“Candidates may apply for re-marking or re-checking of examination scripts immediately after receiving their results,” says Mr. Panyaza Lesufi – Chief Director: Communications, Spokesperson for the Department of Basic Education. “The closing date for application for a re-mark or re-check is 23 January 2012. Application forms for re-marking or re-checking of examination answer scripts are available from schools or centres where the candidates sat for the examination.” The cost for a re-check is R12; for a re-mark, R70; and R150 to view your exam script. Learners from no-fee schools are exempt from these fees.

Supplementary exams:

Matrics who failed less than three exams can apply to write supplementary exams at the start of 2012. They will need to register at their education district office with their ID, exam results and exam number. Qualifying learners for supplementary should not waste any time registering as there is a cut-off point (usually at the end of January). The supplementary exams are then written between February and March. For more info, visit www.education.gov.za. No fees will be charged for supplementary exams.

Re-do your Matric

Learners who do not qualify for supplementary exams and are under 21 are encouraged to re-enrol in school as soon as possible to re-do their Matric. For those unable or unwilling to return to the same school, private colleges such as Abbotts present another option. “If you fail Grade 12, it is possible to move across to an Abbotts college,” says Greg Fillmore, GM of the specialist network of Grade 10, 11 and 12 colleges in South Africa. “We have a 100% pass rate as we’re a purely academic institution, and include supervised homework periods; all learners also get their teacher’s cell phone number and email address so there is a strong support system to ensure they can perform well.”

FET Colleges

“Candidates can also opt for vocational training,” says Mr Lesufi. “The National Certificate (Vocational) and the N Courses (N3 – N6) accommodate learners who have not achieved a Matric certificate and these learners are able to exit the FET College with a vocational qualification. Learners with credits from the National Senior Certificate (Matric) will receive recognition for equivalent subjects when enrolling for the NC(V), which can serve as incentive for entry to the Vocational stream.”

Bridge the gap

For those who Read the full story

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A Letter to the Matrics

I know my letter might have come a bit too late as your exams are over and all that is left is that long wait for freedom to come in the newspaper with EVEYONE watching. I want you to know that, you really need to have passed your final year of studies with flying colours, not only for your sake but for the good of the country. I know, I know! It may seem like you have such a huge weight on your shoulders and that you are too young to have such an enormous burden to carry, but quite frankly our country needs you.

We need you to scrape up the little reputation and measly positive image we might still have left from what was the highlight of the decade …the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

If you look back at the glam and glitz the soccer brought us last year, it’s obvious that we really did mess up this year. I mean, we were the best place to be, we have a beach, fancy stadiums, a rich culture and Terry Pheto! It does not get better than that. Now this year, eish we are back to being THAT country. So dear students, pupils, scholars, uniform wearers, mall fillers or whatever the government calls you, you have to have excelled this year and this is why…

The world has this year seen us as the country that produced the fallen ANCYL president Julius Malema, who later turned on the president and openly disrespected anyone and everyone older than him.

Our very own policemen killed an innocent protestor Andries Tatane. We are the people that Read the full story

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A Walking Generation: Every Generation Needs A New Revolution

If one takes into account all the talk and noise from our leaders, it’s understandable for one to be convinced, depending which side you’re on, that we’re at the dawn of a time of delivery. It is worth noting that the expectations we have are justified but as the same time they require one to be reasonable. It’s becoming clearer that in this system we live in that one has to think differently and shift his or her source of expectation. It requires one to have an enquiring or educated mind that can clearly distinguish between what’s been said and what’s been done, and what needs to be said and what you need to do.

It’s important that we move away and cleanse ourselves from a system or culture that holds us back – the culture of entitlement. We need to understand that politicians will say what they need to say to achieve their desired outcomes and as much as we cannot totally dismiss their mission and vision but we need to know what is it we can do on our own within that vision to achieve our dreams and change our lives for the better.

The New Growth Path says it must provide bold, imaginative and effective strategies to create the millions of new jobs South Africa needs. Whether the NGP will achieve its objective remains to be seen but we, the young people, cannot wait for the NGP or President Zuma to save us. We must welcome their intervention and their efforts but they should meet us halfway. We look forward to a time when our economic system will finally be able to deliver jobs and sufficiently fight the scourge of poverty but we can no longer sit and mourn. It’s time we roll our sleeves.

Thomas Jefferson once said every new generation needs a new revolution. It is evident that our revolution won’t be on the streets, but within. It’s a revolution that requires us to shun ignorance and to be the seekers of knowledge and understanding… to embrace curiosity, chase inspiration and be obsessed with ideas.

Our qualifications alone don’t seem to be delivering us and maybe the world or employers are looking for something extra. It calls for us to be an educated generation way beyond class room; a confident, creative and passionate generation. It is said that a tree does not move unless there’s wind. Maybe our wind is too weak and needs a little push. We are not and can never be a lazy generation, and we need to show that through our actions and behaviour.

I propose four steps we can take right now Read the full story

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