Thursday, 22 October 2015

Getting ready for exams – how to study like a genius.

We all get nervous and stressed when it’s that time of the year again. By that time of the year we mean exams or test weeks and if you’re still at school or varsity this happens more often than not.
You really don’t need to be stressed or nervous, all you need is to be prepared and ready, this makesa world of difference.  Give yourself the best chance with these 10 study tips to study like a genius!
  1. Begin preparing early
    The best possible way for you to do well during exams or test weeks is to pay attention during class, every minute that you aren’t giving your full attention means many more minutes of studying and trying to understand later on.

  2. Know your teacher/professor and have a good relationship
    This is fundamental in achieving good results, to have good relations with your study instructor means that you enjoy the course and if something is unclear to you, you will consult with him/her later or during class to see to it that you understand everything fully.

  3. Form a study group
    Not only will other students be able to help you understand the material, but by helping others you are actually teaching yourself. Remember that this is a study group and not a socializing event and you will need to stay focused on why you are there

  4. Organize your study space
    Make sure you have enough space to spread all your material and notes out. Get yourself comfortable and keep all distractions out of sight.

  5. Flow charts and diagrams work best!
    Use flow charts and diagrams to review your work visually. People tend to remember visual information better. Condense your revision notes into one-page diagrams to reflect when nearing the examination date.

  6. Practise on old examination papers or tests
    After you have studied the relevant material, practice on old papers to test your knowledge and do so under test conditions.  This will help comfort you to know that you will be able to complete the paper within the allocated time.

  7. Take regular breaks for 10 to 20 minutes
    Studying for an entire day might make you feel good, but this could actually be counterproductive. Studies have shown that for long-term retention of knowledge, regular breaks are crucial.

  8. Eat well
    Keep away from heavy saturated foods such as margarine and foods with high sugar levels. You will need to eat balanced meals, containing foods such as eggs, fruit, cereal, lean meat and vegetables. Don’t overeat, rather eat dark chocolate as a treat as studies have shown that this helps  boost your brain.

  9. Get to bead early
    Allow for your body to get the correct amount of rest that it needs to perform the following day.  Thus plan your day so that you will get to bed early and allow for yourself to relax before falling asleep.

  10. Wake up nice and early on the day you are writing
    Give yourself enough time to get up and get to the examination location on time. Getting up nice and early will help you to start the exam/test stress free and with a clear mind.

The privilege of education in South Africa

Being a citizen of such a beautiful and diverse country as South Africa is an immense privilege and one we regularly take for granted.

Not only are we the only country in the world with 11 official languages, but we have a rich and powerful history of reconciliation and forgiveness. Our country has also delivered one of the most powerful figures in the history of mankind, Madiba, the father of our nation.

As diverse and as beautiful as this country might be we do not always realize the task that we as citizens have to bear to uphold this legacy of beauty and greatness, no we rather leave it for the person sitting next to us. We disregard the responsibility of being loyal and responsible citizens that was fought for by so many.

Totsie Memela, CEO of Eduloan, recently said in an Interview with SAfm; that education is your way out of your circumstance, your way of taking responsibility for your life.  Never has this been more true for us as a nation and a country as now.

The mistake we make, is to think that opportunities such as education is a right and not a privilege.  And rightfully so, the basic need to be educated is global, but many only view this as a part of the circle of maturing, of growing up.

Mandela said that education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.  To really realize this, we need to accept the fact that not everyone wants to change the world and therefor there are those that take education for granted. The reality is this, what has been taught to you, no one can ever take away from you. Your education is what shapes your opinion and views.  You don’t know what you don’t know, it’s as simple as that.

Education is the path to development. It creates choices and opportunities for people in terms of access to employment, reduces burdens of poverty and disease, and empowers people. We need to realize that for everyone, education produces a more skilled and competitive workforce, thus opening the doors to economic and social prosperity.

If this were to be true, why are we taking education for granted?

Perhaps it’s not an economically viable option for everyone at this stage. However the example of other European countries such as Austria and the Netherlands, who are succeeding in providing almost free university education for all EU students, suggests that it would not be impossible to provide cheaper education. 

The question then is this; would education be regarded as a privilege and be embraced by everyone once it’s free?  It might be, but that will only be determined once it’s in motion.  For now, we need to realize that even though we can consider Education a basic human right, we need to realize that this in not yet true for everyone. So if you have been through school, college or university; be thankful for the experience the privilege of it. Especially for having done it, in such a beautiful and diverse country.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Leadership in the youth

Developing leadership traits among the youth of South Africa is a critical requirement in order to produce the next generation of leaders. This is true of all fields. No matter what the endeavour or environment, be it government, the corporate world, in communities or individual entrepreneurship - the country needs those who are equipped to take central roles in guiding us into the future.

Why is youth leadership so important?

It has been shown time and again that developing leadership among the youth makes a significant contribution to community development. Youths with leadership skills are generally better able to make a difference in solving community problems and these people are more likely to participate in civic activities1.

The development of leadership also has a great effect on the individual. Leadership is comprised of natural talent combined with learned skills. These skills include goal-setting, problem solving and sensible decision making2. It’s obvious that these traits are of great benefit to the individuals in any endeavours that they undertake. In other words, there is an overlap between leadership and personal success. Youths who have competent leadership skills show higher career aspirations, increased self-esteem and improve school performance and completion rates3.

Nurturing leadership thus benefits the individual, the community and society as a whole, in a variety of way.

Nurturing leadership traits in the youth

Nascent leadership traits often emerge by themselves, which is what allows educators to identify those individuals. But developing leadership takes more than just a natural aptitude.

Developing leadership traits in the youth is something that involves a multitude of people surrounding the individual – family, teachers, youth workers and the broader community. All of these ideally need to work together to produce healthy, successful adolescents with leadership skills.

One of the more successful methods of developing leadership in youth is the incorporation of service projects into the school curriculum. This allows learners to get a taste of making an active contribution to the community and allows them to see what they have learnt being put into action, along with the results that ensue.

Leadership role models in South Africa

Of course when we look at the role models that have and are having an influence on the youth of South Africa, one name stands head and shoulders above the rest: Nelson Mandela. So much has been written about the many ways in which he has been and is a role model for not only the youth of the country, but the country at large.

However, many more role models are needed in all spheres of society, particularly in the home environment and the surrounding local community. In other words, grass roots leadership is always needed to guide the development of the youth. General violence, violence in families, and violence against women and children are particularly acute problems in South Africa. This illustrates the other side of the coin – the effect of the lack of good role models in the family environment, especially with the number of absent or violent fathers, and the number of child-headed homes that exist in our communities.

If one reads articles about successful South Africans, one finds great diversity in whom the individuals name as their role models. Some were inspired by well-known figures, like Steve Jobs and Adrian Gore of Discovery. Others were inspired by role models more close to home, like their parents. Still others are inspired by ordinary South Africans, while others have mentors specific to their careers.

What emerges from this is that anyone can be a role model. These don’t have to be luminous figures; it can be anyone who displays admirable qualities that others, particularly young people, emulate. The lesson for South Africans is that each of us in our own lives can end up being role models for the youth, which is why it is important to provide the kind of example that is worth following.

Let’s start a conversation. Let me know what you think here or connect with me on Twitter (@EduloanSA)


1. O'Brien & Kohlmeier, 2003
2. MacNeil 2000
3. Bloomberg, Ganey, Alba, Quintero, & Alcantara, 2003

Thursday, 8 October 2015

You have a matric – now what?

Getting a matric with university entrance is one of the primary goals of secondary education. However, not everyone obtains a university entrance, leaving them with a basic matric education. What opportunities are there for these matriculants, and what paths can they follow to create careers for themselves? Let’s have a look at some of the avenues open to these school-leavers.


A job straight away?

One of the first options for matriculants who do not have university entrance is to go straight into the job market. There are several immediate advantages to this. For a start, money starts flowing in quickly, and there is no need to go into debt in order to study further.

Finding a job straight out of school can be a tough undertaking, however. The current employment scenario is not a particularly good one for school-leavers, with a very high unemployment rate in this segment of the population. And where there are jobs available, prospective employers more often than not look for a certain amount of experience, which school-leavers obviously lack.

For these reasons we need to look at other options for matriculants, to improve their employability and make them more attractive and desirable in the job market.


Levelling up

There are many further study options open to matriculants who do not have university entrance. In choosing a tertiary education direction the first step is to decide on a desired vocation. This will determine what type of institute to study at or whether to take a different approach.

Institutions offering diploma courses to matriculants are plentiful in the major centres of South Africa. For instance, for those interested in marketing there is the IMM Graduate School of Marketing, or for those wanting to pursue a digital design career there is the Vega School, and so on. There are also plenty of general purpose colleges offering a wide range of diploma courses for matriculants. Another option is to go into a trade and take courses at a technical institute. These are often linked to real-world work experience programmes, which can lead to employment once the necessary certification is obtained. There are also workplace apprenticeships in which a school-leaver can enrol, which can give the advantage of generating income while learning a trade.


Start something yourself

There is a further option for school-leavers; one that is taking on ever-increasing importance in the context of South Africa as a developing country. With its relatively slow economic growth rate and high unemployment, the South African economy needs as much stimulus as possible. One of the most important drivers of this is entrepreneurship, with its ability to create jobs, generate taxable income and provide growth.

For matriculants with the right mindset, starting a business, however small, is certainly a viable option. One might almost say that in order to meet the country’s entrepreneurship needs, it is also a necessity that a certain number of people start their own businesses, with an eye on growth and sustainability.


Still unsure?

And finally, if you are a recent matriculant who is completely unsure of what direction to take, there is the increasingly popular option of a “gap year”. This will give you the time to take stock and discover what it is that you really want to do. You can take this opportunity to travel, if that is affordable, or else take a part-time job to get some work experience.

Whatever your preference, it’s important to realise that matriculating without a university entrance is by no means something that needs to curtail the opportunities available to you. Let’s start a conversation. Let me know what you think here or connect with me on Twitter (@EduloanSA)