Friday, 30 November 2012

World AIDS Day – how HIV/AIDS impacts on education in South Africa

Leading up to World Aids Day (Saturday 1st December) Eduloan would like to take a moment to reflect on the lives that have affected by HIV/Aids and in particular how the virus has left its mark on families, communities and society as a whole.

HIV/Aids has directly impacted on the demand for, and supply of education. The increase in the number of child-headed households has meant that hundreds of thousands of children have had to leave school to look after younger siblings and find a means of generating an income.

In addition, of the 2.5 million children in the world estimated to be living with HIV, 2.3 million are in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to data gathered by the UN, the percentage of learners in school living with HIV infection stands at an estimated 3.4%. The figure in educators is lower at 1.5% however, with a shortage of qualified teachers already, this places additional strain on the educational system.

It’s not all bad news though – the UN Joint Programme on HIV and Aids has recently found that between 2005 and 2011, the number of people dying from Aids-related causes in sub-Saharan Africa declined by a third from 1.8 million to 1.2 million.

We’re encouraged to see that South Africa is making inroads in the fight against HIV, but there is still a lot more to be done, and it starts with the knowledge that prevention is better than the cure.

Arm yourself with knowledge
If you’d like to find tips on how to stay safe in the fight against Aids, click here.

If you’d like to test your knowledge on HIV and Aids, click here.

And if you are infected or affected by HIV, contact one of the organisations below to find counselling and health services in your area:

AIDS consortium: 011-403 0265

Aids Law Project (ALP): 011-717 8600

National Association of People living with HIV/AIDS (NAPWA): 011-872 0975

Treatment Action Campaign (TAC):
Cape Town: 021-364 5489 or 788 3507
JHB: 011-403 2293
KZN: 031-304 3673
Eastern Cape: 043-760 0050

Friday, 23 November 2012

Our Write Your Own Story winner - Inonge Malumo

We recently picked a winner in the Write Your Own Story competition. Inonge Malumo was selected as the winner, and this amazing mother-of-one simply blew us away with her entry!

In the competition, entrants receive a short paragraph which forms part of a story, and we asked our fans to complete the story and submit it to stand a chance of winning R7 500 towards their studies, or a Samsung Galaxy Tab valued at the same amount.

We caught up with Inonge to find out more about her skilful story-writing and which prize she would choose.

The story you wrote in our competition is simply amazing! It’s clear that you have a gift and passion for writing – where did your love for writing begin?

I think I have always had a love for words! I come from a different generation – I’m almost 40 – and I didn’t grow up with the distraction of cellphones and satellite TV. My parents passed on the love of reading and words to me, I loved primary school and at the age of eight I started writing stories and poems. All my writing has an element of truth to it and it all stems from a deep love of books from early on.

Do you write often?

I am working as a corporate writer, working in corporate communications - all my working life I have been writing! My desire has always been to be a children’s author, because I love kids & books.

What did you study?

I studied journalism at Rhodes, which led to my current career. I decided to go into broadcasting & communications, but finally settled into the corporate communications space.

How would you like to write your own story for your own future?

Writing makes me happy, but I would be happier and complete if given the opportunity to write for children – I believe it’s my calling & passion and I don’t want to waste much more time doing anything else.

I want my story to have some sort of value, because not everything we read today has value in it. I’d like people to be moved by my words and have something to take away with them from what I have written.

There are a lot of people who think they’ll accomplish their dreams at “some point” and then they leave this earth and that “some point” never comes. Talent is given to you for a reason - it might take a lifetime to achieve your dream, but you should make a start today and never stop trying!

You had a choice between a bursary and a Galaxy Tab – which one did you choose and why?

I initially chose the bursary because I wanted to enrol for a creative writing course. Unfortunately my Blackberry was stolen, so I decided to take the Samsung Galaxy tablet, to help me do research and work from home if I need to. It will definitely help bring stability into my life again. I also want to take my time to research which course is the best instead of rushing into a decision.

The tablet will also assist in enhancing my 9 year old daughters education and learning. She will be able to use it to assist in her school projects and homework, while I cook and clean and ultimately easing the pressure as I am a single parent.

See below for Inonge’s winning entry in the Write Your Own Story competition.

Themba could never understand why his colleagues complained so often. Break after break, he would sit listening to them, trying to avoid the conversation. If only they knew what it was to be without work! Like he was, until someone saw the potential in him and sponsored his artisanship, ensuring a better future for himself and his family. He still remembers the day it all began when…

He sat outside his nephew's school, waiting as usual for the little boy to come running out so they could walk home together. As he sat there, a lonesome piece of paper fluttered past, creating a sense of litter in the tidy environment. Themba picked it up and noticing it was relatively clean, pulled out the pencil from his back pocket and began to sketch a picture of five year-old Thulani, hoping to finish it before the school bell rang. As he sat sketching, the noise of his surroundings made him look up at the people around him there was Mama Sindi who sat frying legwinya, singing her church songs in a low, melodic voice. To the right was Sizwe who washed cars outside the school, perpetually joking with anyone who passed by and never without a smile on his sun-baked face.

Sizwe not only washed cars, he also fixed them and invariably some broken-down vehicle or other would be in the near vicinity, awaiting his attention.  To the left was the stray dog which roamed the area and seemed to like being around the school - perhaps hoping to catch a crumb or two from a child’s lunchbox or be thrown a scrap by Mama Sindi at the end of the day. Everyone called the dog Zozo, although no one knew why.  Themba sketched it all, becoming more and more fascinated as he recreated his surroundings on the paper, adding random characters who happened to walk by.

 A voice behind him suddenly broke his concentration, making him look up hurriedly.  A man stood there entranced, murmuring softly and reaching out for the piece of paper. Themba hesitantly handed it over, unsure what to say or think. A minute passed, or perhaps five minutes, and then the stranger handed the paper back and looked searchingly at Themba, who was now a little unsure what to make of the unexpected company.

 “Young man”, began the stranger, “do you realise how enormously talented you are? I have never seen such beautiful and compelling work. Who do you draw for, or are you a student artist?” Themba shuffled his feet nervously, unable to stop a smile from forming on his young face. He greeted the stranger politely before clearing his throat.

“No sir, I am just waiting to collect my sister’s son from school, I sometimes come too early and today have passed my time sketching what I see around me. I have completed my secondary schooling but I don’t work, although I would love to.”

The stranger looked at the paper again, whistled softly in wonderment, then reached into his back pocket and took out a card. “My name is Phil Matiya, and I’ve come to this school to speak to the headmaster about opening an art centre for these kids, I came to this school as a child and want to give back. I am now an art dealer and want to uplift my community by giving back to the people who raised me. And I want to give back to you, young man.”

Unsure what to say, Themba stood there and nodded shyly at the gentleman, who continued speaking. “Themba, you have a gift you should share with the world. If you can draw the day as you see it, with such talent and passion, then you can draw your way through life and make a name for yourself. You say you are looking for a job? You have one now young man. I want you to come to my arts and crafts centre, where I offer artisanship in various disciplines, including fine arts. Because that is what you are doing here young man; this is fine art!”

In the distance, the school bell rang and the shrieks of children could be heard. 

“I want to groom you - not into a township artist, but into a world-class, world-renowned artist. There are galleries in the world which need your talent on their walls. Are you ready to take this trip with me, are you ready to take your gift to the world?”

Phil slipped his card into Themba’s trembling hands. “Remember, a gift is never for one person alone. Come and see me at the address on that card - I will fully sponsor your artisanship and we will take your gift to the world.”

His eyes alive with excitement, Phil smiled broadly at Themba before walking off into the school in the direction of Principal Hlatshwayo’s office. Themba took out the card and gazed at it. Somehow, right there, he knew his life had changed forever.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

10 tips on making good choices while studying - how the choices you make today will affect your tomorrows

1. Choose responsibility
Although heading off to the next chapter in your life can feel like a coming-of-age moment, it doesn’t mean that campus life is one long holiday.

Ever wonder why the older generation are so serious sometimes? It’s because they’ve come to realise that they spent their whole childhoods thinking that it would be amazing to be an adult, and their whole adulthood wishing they could go back to childhood, when everything was so much more fun…

Don’t put yourself at risk of losing focus and always put your studies first. Hanging out with the wrong crowd could have disastrous consequences, so think before you do something that could jeopardise your dreams for the future!

The moment you take responsibility for everything in your life, is the moment you can change anything in your life. – Hal Elrod

2. Choose balance
A large number of first-year students drop out because they haven’t found a balance between getting out there and socialising and the hard work that goes into graduating. There’s nothing wrong with going out with friends to experience the night life of the city, but doing so the day before an exam, or the night you were supposed to work on an assignment could end up dealing your career path a cruel blow. Make time to live your social life and time to study, and never give your social life preference over your studies.

3. Choose family time
If home is where the heart is, then don’t allow yourself to get distanced from it. If you can’t visit home, call home. Tell your family that you love them. They will help you to remember why you are doing what you’re doing.

4. Be careful with your heart
Hearts are pretty fragile things, and when things go wrong, it can affect your studies badly. So don’t give your heart to someone who doesn’t deserve it, and don’t get serious too quickly – if your significant other really loves you, they’ll wait for you, but your lecturers won’t.

5. Choose leadership
Forget what you learned in school - leadership isn’t just about wearing shiny badges and acting as though you’re more important that anyone else. Instead of others leading you astray, why not lead others in the right direction? Set up study groups and collaborate with other students who are serious about their studies.

6. Choose a cause
Campus life is the perfect place to find out what’s going on in the world, and getting involved with student unions, exercise groups, environmental causes and many other types of extra-mural activities can be beneficial to you and those around you.

7. Put your thinking cap on
Universities and colleges are different from secondary schools in one distinct way: they teach you how to think for yourself and use reason and logic in your arguments. If you can find a way of making a rational argument on any topic then you’ve won half the battle.

8. Choose bedtime
It’s easy to stay up late for any reason, whether it’s having a few more with some buddies or studying through the night for an exam. But if you don’t have regular sleep of between 6 to 8 hours long, your health and your brain’s ability to function under pressure could be impaired as a result. On a school night, try to get to bed before ten so that you can stock up on your beauty sleep.

9. Choose originality
In universities, plagiarism is a massive problem due to the availability of information on the internet and the ease with which it can be copied and pasted into an assignment. Yes, it’s safe to say that everyone researches their work on the internet, but resorting to copying someone else’s words may result in some serious consequences someday. Read and research, let the information sink in, then close your books and start writing on a blank page.
Be yourself, everyone else is taken.

10. Courage, not fear
Tertiary education can be a daunting thing once reality sets in and the pressure starts to build, but it’s important to never give up and continue to believe in yourself. Make yourself a visual board that explains who you are, where you’ve come from and where it is that you want to go and every time you’re feeling afraid that you won’t be able to do this, just take out that vision board and remind yourself of who you are and where you’re going to. Tell yourself that you’re not going to let anyone or anything get in the way of your future. You can do it!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Careers & cost comparisons

One of the biggest investments you will probably make in your life is that of funding your education. Taking this to heart, it would be advisable to research your study pathway options thoroughly, to decide which option suits you best and to cost it thoroughly.

As a follow-up to yesterday’s blog post on why you should choose to study a “scarce skill” and how to budget for 2013, we’ll provide some insight into four great career areas, where you can study and what kind of fees you are looking at:

With a business qualification, you will be well equipped to enter almost any branch of commerce and industry – from tourism, manufacturing, financial services and information technology to sales and marketing, retail and transport.

You could consider positions such as economist, business analyst, business consulting, and general management-level positions. Usually, you would need a BCom degree, or a BCom with a particular specialisation, or you could consider a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA).

If you want to study further, consider a Masters in Business Leadership (MBL) or Masters in Business Administration (MBA). An undergraduate BCom degree usually takes about 3 years at University and you can expect to pay anywhere from R16 000 to R40 000, depending on what and where you study.

Or you could opt for a Business Management N4 to N6 at a FET college, which is an 18-month course, with an option thereafter for students to obtain 18-months of practical experience in order to obtain their National Diploma. Courses average about R7 000 per year and there is a pre-matric option, for those without their National Senior Certificate, at approximately R3 500 per year.

A good first port of call for a career in Marketing is the IMM Graduate School of Marketing, which offers internationally recognised certificate, diploma and degree courses. A 1-year Certificate in Retail Marketing or Sales Management will cost from about R6 500, the 3-year Diploma in Marketing approximately R15 000 and the 4-year Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Marketing (BBAM) about R19 500.

You could start with a Certificate and work your way right up through to the BBAM, gaining credits for subjects passed and so also shortening the length of study. For example if, after obtaining your Diploma in Marketing, you take the BBAM conversion course, you can complete it 1-year full-time or 2-years part-time, as opposed to the full 4-year degree course.

You could also consider studying a BCom with a specialisation in Marketing Management, or a BBA, which will ensure you are able to work in a variety of industries, such as advertising, sales or product development, and in a range of occupations, including marketing manager or consultant, market researcher, sales manager and brand manager.

You could also opt for a 3-year National Diploma in Marketing and thereafter a 1-year BTech (Marketing) at University level, which will cost from R16,000 to R40 000, depending on what and where you study.

You can also study at a University of Technology for a 2-year NDip (Marketing), at a cost of between R11 000 and R16 000, and from there you could study for a BA(Hon) or BTech Degree. Many FET (Further Education and Training) Colleges offer the National Certificate in Marketing N4 to N6, with courses averaging about R7,000 per year, and a pre-matric option for about R3 500 per year.

You will need a 3 or 4-year bachelor degree, such as a BA, BCom, BBA or BSc, with approved teaching subjects. You can also consider a Bachelor of Education (BEd), either ECD (Early Childhood Development) and Foundation Phase, Intermediate and Senior Phase or Senior Phase and FET. Again, fees will range from R16 000 to R40 000, depending on what and where you study.

There is talk in government of reinstating the teacher’s training colleges of the past, which is sure to increase accessibility to and the affordability of training in the teaching profession.

Science & Technology:
The government is actively backing the science and technology industries, as there is a serious shortage of skills in these sectors. There is a huge choice of potential careers to choose from – we will focus on the popular choices of biochemist, environmental scientist and engineering technician.

For a career as a chemical engineer, you would need to study a 4-year BEng (Chemical) at University; as a biochemist, you could consider a BSc General (majoring in Biochemistry) through UNISA; as an environmental scientist a BSc (with a specialisation in Environmental Management) through UNISA and as an engineering technician a NDip Civil Engineering at a University of Technology.

The fee range is varied, but you’re looking at approximately R25 000 and upwards for a University degree and between R8 000 and R18 000 per year at a University of Technology. If you are interested in mechanical, electrical or civil engineering, then an FET college is also an option – you can start by obtaining your National Certificate (N4 to N6) in your chosen discipline, at a cost of approximately R8 000 and, after a prescribed period of practical work experience, you can then apply for your National Diploma.

Eduloan is the only dedicated educational financial services company in South Africa, focusing on providing financial solutions to students with the goal of ensuring that tertiary education is accessible to all. Eduloan is firmly committed to contributing meaningfully to social and economic upliftment through education and is a responsible financial services provider with the interests of its students foremost in mind. For further information, contact Eduloan’s Client Services Department on 0860-55-55-44 or visit Eduloan.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Choosing to study a “scarce skill” – why should you do it?

Entering into tertiary education can be a daunting prospect. For one thing, you will get some perspective of just how many young people will be competing for the same type of job when you graduate. If you’re thinking about studying towards a Bachelor of Arts degree – including music and social sciences – chances are you might struggle for years to find employment because of the sheer numbers of people qualifying in the same thing.

The problem of the “unemployed graduate” has become an endemic one, and this year a labour market analyst released a report that found over 600 000 South African graduates were unemployed.

The key to avoiding joining this enormous and ever-growing number of unemployed graduates is choosing your field of study wisely.  Here are some ways that you can give your chances of settling into a great career a serious boost:

Study scarce skills
Here is South Africa’s current list of skills which are in short supply:

* Engineering professionals
* Natural & physical science professionals
* School teachers
* Higher education lecturers
* Health diagnostic & promotion professionals
* Business & systems analysts and programmers
* ICT network & support professionals
* Agricultural, medical and science technicians
* Fabrication engineering trades workers
* Bricklayers, carpenters and joiners
* Electricians
* Food trades workers
* Health and welfare support workers
* Call or contact centre information clerks

Finding yourself a study field on this list in which you can qualify will mean that the chances of finding employment after you qualify will greatly increase.

FET colleges
Another option to give serious consideration to would be to get a diploma at an FET (Further Education and Training) college. And if you think that diplomas aren’t as “good” as degrees, think again. The main advantage of getting a diploma is the hands-on training that you get in the subject you decide to study. A degree will give you theoretical knowledge of the subjects and teaches you to think for yourself, but university students often graduate from university with little to no practical experience, which can add to their difficulty in finding a job, depending on the type of degree they have obtained.

Diplomas, on the other hand, are there to address the skills shortages in South Africa, and focus on practical training rather than the theory of the subject. If you study towards a diploma, you can be assured that you will develop the skills you need to perform a specific job. University graduates might get paid better initially, but that’s only if they can find employment.

Another added benefit of studying for a diploma is that you can choose to upgrade your diploma to a degree at a later stage. Universities will give you credits towards your degree based on existing qualifications.

Work experience
If you have a good work ethic, a can-do attitude and the will to succeed, get out there and start working. You may find that as you work your way up, the opportunity to study further will present itself to you.

Whatever path you choose to take, remember that as long as you believe in yourself and work hard, you are bound to succeed, even if it takes a little longer than you expected. Whatever you do, don’t give up. And remember that Eduloan is here to support and assist you in making those dreams a reality wherever we can – call our customer service centre on 0860 55 44 44 to find out more about getting a study loan.