A guide to your child's education and learning

    Cost of education



  • As a parent, it's important to realise that the financial decisions you make today could make all the difference to your kid's future. Especially when you consider the facts... that if your child begins Grade R at a public school in 2012, you can expect to spend over R450 000 for primary and high school education. What's more, if you wish to send them to a private school, the cost will rise to over R1.5 million. And this excludes expenses such as books, stationary, travelling, board and extra-mural activities.

    In reality, the rising cost of education in South Africa is putting a financial strain on many families. And that's why - as the savings and investment partner of many South Africans - we recognise the growing need for planning and saving for your child's education. By sharing in our knowledge, wisdom and resources, you'll be prepared to give your kids the real head start in life that they deserve.

    Education inflation

    Education inflation is the rate at which the cost of education rises on an annual basis. It's also one of the reasons many of us struggle to save enough to cover the cost of school and university fees (and all those extras). Essentially, education inflation is higher than South Africa's official inflation rate (Consumer Price Index) and this gap has widened from around 2% in the early 2000's to 4% today in 2012.

    Public versus Private costs



    • Cost comparison: Private school education is roughly 2.5 times more expensive than public-school education.
    • Costs on the rise: One year of high school education at a private school will cost approximately R80 000 in 2012. In 2018, that will increase to around R124 000 per year.
    • Extra Costs: School uniforms and normal extra mural activities can cost as much as R9 000 per year.

    How to avoid the 'saving spiral'

    Here's another reason to start saving sooner rather than later. If you begin saving for your child's education today - rather than trying to pay for school fees out of your monthly cash flow when the time comes - your savings will go a long way towards covering the school fees. With your child's education costs covered, you'll have the freedom to invest any extra money towards your own retirement.

    If you start saving too late, you will significantly reduce your ability to invest in your own retirement, as any extra cash will be going directly towards school fees. This is referred to as the 'saving spiral' which parents can get trapped in and find almost impossible to escape.
    In short, successful retirement saving begins with your child's education fund! Added to this, a well-educated child has a better chance of finding a good job, becoming financially independent sooner.

    Choosing the right school for your child

  • As a parent, it's important to consider that the type of school you choose for your child can really affect their future. That's why we recommend that you choose the best possible school that fits within your budget.

    What's more, your choice of high school could depend on whether your child is already showing a particular aptitude or passion. Many schools are known for their excellent art or music departments, or for their strength in a specific sport. On the other hand, there are many schools which are clearly focused on specific areas such as trade schools or those which specialise in preparing a child for a career in music, art, drama or ballet.

    > Click here to find a school.


    Public schools


    Your choices are relatively limited if you wish to send your child to a public school. This is because public schools can only admit pupils based on a set of criteria - such as a child's home language, their attendance at "feeder schools", as well as whether they live in the school's "catchment area". It goes without saying that the better public schools are much harder to get into – especially if you live outside the catchment area of your feeder school.

    If you have a strong idea of what school you would like your child to attend, there are a few things you can do to maximise your chances:

    • Check with your school to see when applications open and apply as early as possible.
    • Enrolling your child in a suitable feeder school.
    • In an application covering letter, make it known if:
    • a parent has attended, or sibling is currently attending the school. Schools, particularly the older ones, prefer to admit pupils who have a 'history' through other members of their family.
    • your child has excellent talent - be it academic, artistic or sporting.
    • Where possible, move to the school's designated "catchment area".

    Note: Most schools offer full or partial bursaries for those who may otherwise be unable to afford or qualify to attend the school. The details and requirement criteria of such bursaries are typically freely accessible.

    Private (independent) schools

    The number of independent schools in South Africa – at all levels, from informal township schools to the high-end institutions – is growing at a rapid rate. Independent schools, particularly the high-end ones, tend to offer an excellent all-round education and, if one can afford them, could give your child a real head start in life.

    It's not surprising that places at the better independent schools are in huge demand. Because of their freedom to choose pupils, independent schools, particularly the elite ones, will place emphasis on academic and/or sporting capability, social standing and historical/family ties with the school, financial position, donations etc.

    If you wish to place your child at a private institution, it's advisable to do the following:

    • Apply as early as possible (it is not uncommon for parents to register a newborn child with a chosen school!)
    • Where relevant, try and place your child at a recognised "feeder" pre- or primary school to the institution of your choice.
    • Ensure you are in a position to pay the fees (which can be exceptionally costly).
    • In the application, be sure to mention if your child excels in any specific area whether it be academics, sport, music or any other area. It's also a good idea to mention any specific family ties that exist with the school.
    • It's worth considering whether your child may qualify for enrolment based on a scholarship or bursary, since many independent schools offer these and reserve positions for learners who may not otherwise be able to afford them.

    Matric colleges

    Matric colleges tend to focus on learners who may not have performed well or are unhappy within a traditional school environment, and who wish to achieve an acceptable matric pass. They tend to be far less formal (e.g. do not require a uniform) than traditional schools, and typically do not offer any extra-curricular activity beyond their core matric-focused academic studies.

    They are consequently very results-orientated and there are many learners who have achieved excellent results within this system. And since they are business based and extremely focused, they are often better able to accommodate demand and therefore finding a place for a child will rarely be an issue. Importantly, such schools are often more expensive and this will need to be taken into account.

Choosing the right tertiary institution

Choosing a tertiary institution is probably the most important decision you will make in terms of your child's education and their future as a whole.

Factors influencing, or in some cases, dictating your choice of institution include:

    • Overall examination results – these govern acceptance at an institution.
    • Specific subject examination results – these govern acceptance within specific departments/courses at an institution.
    • Student aptitude and passion and/or chosen career path – assuming the above base entrance criteria are met, these will be the most important driver of choice.
    • Location of institution.
    • Type of attendance – correspondence, day student, residential student.
    • Cost – this will vary significantly between type of institution and course and includes other factors such as accommodation, food and extra-mural activities.

    Colleges and universities of technology

    Colleges and Universities of Technology (sometimes referred to as Technikons) traditionally focus on providing more practical qualifications than universities. Courses are structured around "doing" a subject as opposed to examining the underlying philosophy or high level thoughts around the given subject.

    Importantly, the qualifications offered at such institutions are typically standardised and determined by a central governing body (both in terms of content and duration) and this tends to mean that there is not much room for academic differentiation between institutions – which makes it easier to choose between them.

    A wide number of institutions (including distance learning or correspondence colleges) is available to choose from and, providing one can afford it, finding a place should not be very difficult. The major differentiator is whether they are independent (such as Damelin College and Intec) or government/public institutions (e.g Cape Peninsula University of Technology).

    Advantages:
    • Offer hands-on, technical type courses.
    • Graduates are ready to enter the workplace immediately.
    • There are also many "distance learning" or correspondence based institutions which will allow a student to study and complete a college/technikon type course whilst holding down a job or an apprenticeship.

    Who is it best suited to? This is best suited to learners wishing to get a practical qualification which will enable them to enter and practice their chosen profession directly and immediately.

    Universities

    Universities offer a good educational base designed to equip students to develop beyond the scope of their initial qualification - whether in terms of further formal studies or developing further within the workplace.
    University courses can be loosely classified as being either generalist or specialist.

    For this reason, certain degrees tend to support broader career choices than others. For example, courses within the Arts and Humanities and Commerce are an attractive option for those not yet completely clear on a desired path as they tend to provide a broad academic scope which can help prepare students for virtually any future career.

    That is not to say that specialisation within these fields is not a viable path. Contrasted against this are courses which are particularly focused on the pursuit of a specific path only – e.g. aeronautical engineering.

    Advantages:
    • Graduates from universities tend to have a higher job market value and viability.
    • Graduates tend to enter employment with a view to 'climbing the career ladder' and are not defined by their degree in the same way as a technical qualification may define an electrician's scope of employment.

    Who is it best suited to?
    This is best suited to those who wish to explore, develop or specialise in their field of interest. It's also perfect for students who are not yet sure which career path they wish to choose, but would like to receive a high level generalist qualification.
    Courses offered at universities tend to be less standardised and more personally driven by the academic heads. So there can be quite a significant degree of variation between degrees and courses offered by different institutions.
    If your child qualifies for and wants to attend university, a decision as to which one to choose should be based on:

    • Language medium.
    • Location (and whether residency is affordable).
    • Departmental strengths - some universities are known for their specific departments, e.g. UCT has an internationally renowned Medical School.
    • Standing – certain universities are better respected both locally and internationally.
    • Social context – ensure your child will be happy as they will spend the majority of their academic and social time on or near campus.
    • Affordability – academic fees, books and equipment, and other costs, such as accommodation, can vary quite substantially.


    Applying for university
    Whilst a learner may achieve a university exemption level matric, as well as the marks needed for the specific course, it is still by no means guaranteed that he or she will be accepted for a university course. As with many schools, places are limited and the more desirable the institution, the greater the competition. As a result, some universities require students to write a standard entrance test for certain courses.

    If you wish to enrol your child at university, it's advisable to do the following:
    • Be aware of the application deadlines.
    • Apply at more than one university in case your first choice application is unsuccessful.
    • Where applicable, apply for more than one course/degree – this will maximise a child's chances of attending a first choice institution, and it is worth noting that in many cases it will be possible to enrol for the originally preferred course following successful completion of a first year in another.
    • Ensure that, where relevant, your child is aware of and studies for the entrance test.
    • Ask for a copy of the bursary and scholarship list and application form and apply, where relevant. These forms are generally universal and you may apply for multiple bursary/scholarships with a single application.
    • Where relevant, remember to apply to a university residence for your child. If unsuccessful, you may have to find accommodation outside of the official university residences. Note: Many university residences have a particular "personality" and before applying it is worth exploring which residence would best suit your child.

    Correspondence degrees

    Certain universities, both local (such as the University of South Africa - Unisa) and offshore, offer reputable degrees by correspondence. And with the advent of broadband internet, now also offer a valuable degree of human interaction between student and tutor which was previously limited in distance learning.

    Advantages:

    • Courses are often significantly cheaper than normal university attendance.
    • Students can study in their own time and/or complete a degree over an extended period - providing many with the opportunity to occupy an income earning position or apprenticeship at the same time as studying.
    • The virtually limitless scalability of an internet-based distance learning facility means that acceptance for courses, assuming base entrance criteria are met, is virtually assured.

    Who is it best suited to?
    This is ideal for more disciplined, mature students who can motivate themselves to work in relative isolation - distance degree courses have one of the highest non-completion rates as they rely completely on the student for structure and discipline


    • Nutrition

      It is a proven fact that a brain that does not get the correct nutrition does not do well in academics. Proper nutrition is vital to the successful development of a child. The human brain is only 2% of the total body weight, yet it requires approximately 20% of the total calorie intake in order to function correctly. Which is why it is so important to give your child healthy and nutritious meals.
      Below is a list of 'brain foods' that can assist in the optimum functioning of your child's brain.

      Please note that this is a basic guide based on general best practice. When in doubt, always consult with your doctor first.

      Never underestimate the importance of keeping your kids well-hydrated with water. One of the most important nutrients for children, water not only keeps them healthy, but also will help them perform better in school. This is because dehydration can lead to a reduction in both mental and physical performance, which can easily affect their school work.

      Salmon

      Salmon is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids that help the brain develop tissue, which in turn increases brain power.

      Eggs

      Besides being a wonderful source of protein, egg yolks also contain choline, which is essential for brain development and improving memory function. Getting adequate amounts of choline early in life is seen to help kids learn more readily, and also helps with information retention.

      Peanuts

      Peanuts and peanut butter are an excellent source of Vitamin E, which protects nervous membranes. Peanuts also contain thiamine, which helps the brain and nervous system convert glucose into energy.

      Whole grains

      The brain needs an optimal level of glucose for energy throughout the day. Whole grains contain both the necessary glucose as well as fibre which helps regulate the release of glucose. Vitamin B in whole grains helps kids develop a healthy nervous system.

      Oats/Oatmeal

      When eaten for breakfast, fibre-rich oats can keep kids energised throughout the morning at school. Oats are also rich in vitamins B, E, potassium and zinc which help the brain and body to function at an optimum levels.

      Berries

      Besides, being a delicious snack for lunch boxes, are also great for the brain. Blueberries are known for improving motor skills and learning capacity while strawberries are rich in fisetin, a flavenoid that improves memory recall. Elderberries, blackberries and raspberries have other brain-power boosting benefits through their                   antioxidant content.

      Pulses and beans

      Beans provide energy from protein and complex carbohydrates they contain, in addition to fibre and loads of vitamins and minerals. Peas, lentils, green beans, lima beans, black beans, kidney beans and a variety of legumes are said to help energise the brain.

      Colourful veggies

      Colourful vegetables are rich in antioxidants, which help with the development of immunity as well as keeping the brain cells strong.

      Milk and yoghurt

      Brain tissues, enzymes and neurotransmitter all need protein and B vitamins for growth - making dairy foods an ideal part to any diet.

      Lean beef

      An excellent source of iron which is important for kids' growth and concentration at school. Beef also contains zinc which aids memory. Vegetarian children can get the same benefits from soy and black beans.

    • Milestones

      Watching your baby develop and grow into a little person is a fascinating and special time. But it can also be terrifying – especially for first-time parents. We have provided a list of milestones you can look forward to noticing as your baby matures. Just remember that every baby is different, and this is just a general guideline. Don't be concerned if your child is not following the exact developmental milestones listed below. Simply enjoy the experience and remember that the best gift you can ever give your child is unconditional love and support.

      During pregnancy

      Physical:

      • Your baby develops all the physical assets needed for a healthy life in the big wide world during the nine months he or she is in the womb.
      • By the fifth month all senses – taste, smell, hearing, sight and touch – are well developed.
      • By the seventh month lungs are almost fully developed and your baby is putting on weight rapidly, building up fat stores.
      Intellectual:
      • Your baby's brain develops throughout your pregnancy.
      • By the seventh month it has matured enough to help regulate body temperature.

      Did you know?

      By week 26, your baby can recognise your voice.

      At birth

      Physical:
      • Lies in foetal position with knees tucked up.
      • Unable to raise head. Head falls backwards if pulled to sit.
      • Reacts to sudden sound.
      • Closes eyes to bright light.
      • Opens eyes when held in an upright position.

      Social and Emotional:
      • Bonds with mother.
      • Smiles at mother.

      Intellectual:
      • Beginning to develop concepts.
      • Becomes aware of physical sensations such as hunger.
      • Explores using senses.
      • Makes eye contact and cries to indicate need.

      Language:
      • Cries vigorously.
      • Responds to high-pitched tones by moving limbs.

      Did you know?

      Although it will take at least six months for teeth to appear, your baby is born with a full set hiding below the gums.

      0-3 months

      Physical:
      • Pelvis is flat when lying down.
      • Lower back is still weak.
      • Back and neck firm when held sitting.
      • Grasps objects placed in hands.
      • Turns head round to have a look at objects.
      • Establishes eye contact.

      Social and Emotional:
      • Squeals with pleasure appropriately.
      • Reacts with pleasure to familiar routines.
      • Discriminates smile.

      Intellectual:
      • Takes increasing interest in surroundings.
      • Shows interest in playthings.
      • Understands cause and effect – if you tie one end of a ribbon to your baby's toe and the other to a mobile, he or she will learn to move the mobile.

      Language:
      • Attentive to sounds made by your voice.
      • Indicates needs with differentiated cries.
      • Beginning to vocalise.
      • Smiles in response to speech.

      Did you know?

      Your baby loves to be touched. Ensure lots of skin-to-skin contact by holding and rocking him or her, or giving a gentle massage.

      3-6 months

      Physical:
      • Can lift head and shoulders.
      • Sits up with support.
      • Enjoys standing and jumping.
      • Transfers objects from one hand to the other.
      • Pulls self up to sit and sits erect with supports.
      • Rolls over prone to supine. Well established visual sense.

      Social and Emotional:
      • Responds to different tones of mother.
      • May show 'stranger shyness'.
      • Takes stuff to mouth.

      Intellectual:
      • Finds feet interesting.
      • Understands objects and knows what to expect of them.
      • Understands 'up' and 'down' and makes appropriate gestures, such as raising arms to be picked.

      Language:
      • Double syllable sounds such as 'mama' and 'dada'.
      • Laughs in play. Screams with annoyance.


      6-9 months

      Physical:
      • Sits unsupported.
      • Grasps with thumb and index finger.
      • Releases toys by dropping.
      • Wiggles and crawls.
      • Picks up objects with pincer grasp.
      • Looks for fallen objects.
      • Holds bottle.
      • Is visually attentive.

      Social and Emotional:
      • Apprehensive about strangers.
      • Imitates hand-clapping.
      • Clings to familiar adults.

      Intellectual:
      • Shows interest in picture books.
      • Watches activities of others with interest.

      Language:
      • Babbles tunefully.
      • Vocalises to attract attention.
      • Enjoys communicating with sounds.

      Did you know?

      Avoid getting caught up in competitive (and comparative) child-rearing. All children develop at different rates and early milestones are seldom an indicator of long-term skills or competencies.

      12-15 months

      Physical:
      • Stands holding furniture.
      • Stands alone for a second or two, then collapses with a bump.
      • Walks holding one hand. Bends down and picks up objects.
      • Pulls to stand and sits deliberately.
      • May walk alone.
      • Holds spoon.
      • Points at objects.
      • Picks up small objects.

      Social and Emotional:
      • Cooperates with dressing.
      • Waves goodbye.
      • Understands simple commands.
      • Demonstrates affection.
      • Participates in nursery rhymes.

      Intellectual:
      • Responds to simple instructions.
      • Uses trial-and-error to learn about objects.

      Language:
      • Babbles two or three words repeatedly.
      • Responds to simple instructions.
      • Understands several words.
      • Uses baby talk.

      Did you know?

      Your baby can become frustrated with his or her inability to communicate needs properly. Create a handful of signs with your child to ease the situation. Research has shown that this process can actually help verbal communication.

      15-18 months

      Physical:
      • Can crawl up stairs frontwards.
      • Kneels unaided.
      • Balance is poor.
      • Can crawl down stairs backwards.
      • Builds two block tower.
      • Can place objects precisely.
      • Turns pages of picture book.

      Social and Emotional:
      • Helps with dressing.
      • Indicates soiled or wet pants.
      • Emotionally dependent on familiar adult.

      Intellectual:
      • Is very curious.

      Language:
      • Can communicate needs.
      • Jabbers freely and loudly.

      Did you know?

      Car trips with a 15-month-old can be extremely stressful. Keep a selection of healthy snacks and toys on hand to keep your toddler occupied while you drive.

      18 months - 2 years

      Physical:
      • Squats to pick up toys.
      • Can walk alone.
      • Drinks without spilling.
      • Picks up toy without falling over.
      • Shows preference for one hand.
      • Gets up/down stairs holding onto rail.
      • Begins to jump with both feet.
      • Can build a tower of 3 or 4 cubes and throw a ball.

      Social and Emotional:
      • Plays alone near familiar adult.
      • Demands constant mothering.
      • Drinks from a cup with both hands.
      • Feeds self with a spoon.
      • Attains bowel control.
      • Tries to sing.
      • Imitates domestic activities.

      Intellectual:
      • Enjoys simple picture books.
      • Explores environment.
      • Knows the names of parts of body.

      Language:
      • Uses 'baby talk'.
      • Uses many intelligible words.
      • Repeats an adult's last word.
      • Jabbering established.


      2-3 years

      Physical:
      • Can kick a large ball.
      • Squats with ease.
      • Rises without using hands.
      • Builds tower of six cubes.
      • Able to run.
      • Walks up and down stairs 2 feet per step.
      • Turns picture book pages one at a time.

      Social and Emotional:
      • Throws tantrum if frustrated.
      • Can put on shoes.
      • Completely spoon feeds and drinks from cup.
      • Is aware of physical needs.

      Intellectual:
      • Joins 2-3 words in sentences.
      • Recognises details in pictures.
      • Uses own name to refer to self.

      Language:
      • Talks to self continuously.
      • Speaks over two hundred words and accumulates new words very rapidly.

      Did you know?

      Albert Einstein didn't talk until he was three years old! His parents worried that something was wrong with him.

      3 years

      Physical:
      • Can jump off lower steps.
      • Can pedal and steer tricycle.
      • Goes up stairs one foot per step and downstairs two feet per step.
      • Copies a drawn circle. Draws man on request. Builds tower of nine cubes.
      • Has good pencil control. Can cut paper with scissors.
      • Can thread large beads on a string.

      Social and Emotional:
      • Plays co-operatively.
      • Undresses with assistance.
      • Imaginary companions.
      • Tries very hard to please.
      • Uses spoon and fork.

      Intellectual:
      • Relates present activities and past experiences.
      • Can draw a person with a head.
      • Can sort objects into simple categories.

      Language:
      • Constantly asks questions.
      • Speaks in sentences.
      • Talks to him or herself when playing.


      Source: Development Milestones Chart, The Institute for Human Services for The Ohio Child Welfare Training Program, October 2007 http://www.child-development-guide.com/child-development-milestone.html

    We've put together a guide that addresses many of the concerns you may have about your child's development and school life. This information is based on current schools of thought, but we do suggest that you consult with a professionally qualified educational or vocational guidance counsellor and/or adviser if you're ever in doubt.


    • Supporting your child through school


      Homework

      Homework can be one of the biggest challenges in the lives of any parent and child. Not only is the volume of homework given to children measurably increasing with each passing year, but its complexity is also advancing at a rapid rate. The good news is that you as a parent do not and should not have to do your child's homework for them. This is a mistake many parents make and it does not at all help children in the long run.

      The following is a list of tips on how to make the most out of homework:

      • Set a fixed time for your child to do homework on a daily basis. Unless extra-mural activities do not allow, this is ideally shortly after getting home from school and definitely before supper.
      • Be aware that studying for exams and tests can require extra hours and effort beyond normal homework and ensure your child plans accordingly.
      • Allow your child to seek your guidance and knowledge but ensure you are not doing their work for them.
      • Allow your child to do research on the internet but emphasise that they should not "cut and paste" text or answers. Teach them how to correctly use Google and other search engines.
      • Always supervise your child's homework by checking it against the requirements set out in their homework books.
      • Reward completion of homework with some "freedom", whether it is giving them time to go outdoors and play or watch TV. But ensure homework always comes first!

      Pocket money

      Giving your child pocket money can be a great way of teaching them about the importance of money management. However, you should avoid giving too much money and/or giving it without any reason.

      The following are some pocket money guidelines you may find useful:

      • Ideally your child should be encouraged to earn their allowance through positive behaviour or actual performance of suitable and positive tasks.
      • Encourage your child to spend their allowance wisely and lead by example.
      • Encourage your child to use their real experiences to show why concepts such as saving, or buying items with real value, should take precedence over wasteful spending.
      • Help your child build positive financial behaviour from an age where they are most impressionable.

      Holiday work

      Students of legal age should be encouraged to seek holiday work for a number of reasons. Experience in the real world will give them an idea of employment dynamics, career choices, managing money and possibly most importantly, the link between effort and reward. But as a parent you will need to ensure that at no stage is your child exposed to a potentially harmful or exploitative situation. So make it your business to monitor the entire employment process from the initial contact with potential employers to visiting them at work to check on the situation. If your child needs to use public transport or walk through public spaces, suggest that they aren't paid in cash and rather open a savings or cheque account into which money can be safely deposited.


      If possible ensure that your child seeks holiday work which is aligned with their passion, whether it is what they may be studying or a hobby or sport etc.

      While they probably won't earn a lot of money at the end of the process, overseas holiday employment is a great way to travel and gain experience. As a parent, again, it is important to establish the credentials of the employer and/or agency through which your child may be employed. Holiday jobs overseas are freely available, especially in the US, where school Summer Camps provide a wide range of employment opportunities for young adults. There are many agencies which will arrange such employment – but be warned, some of them will extract a significant commission from your child's pay. In addition, you or your child will have to finance the travel expenses involved in getting to and from the place of overseas employment.

      Career guidance

      Choosing a career is an incredibly important process that starts as early as the beginning of grade 8 when learners already need to make important subject choices. Obviously choosing a path becomes more critical as a child approaches the end of their school career. As a parent, you need to help your child make decisions, but ultimately the decision should not be yours.
      Simply guide your child as to the realities of particular choices. Point out that they should measure these not only by levels of interest they may have, but also by how much their chosen path will be able to support the kind of expectations they may have of life. For example: Being a singer/artist/pro sportsman is a great vocation, but what are the chances of making it big and supporting a desired luxury lifestyle? At the same time, passion should not be stifled, and ultimately the decision and the results are the responsibility of your child.

      Professional career guidance is generally available at all formal secondary and tertiary educational institutions through qualified career counsellors who are employed to help learners and students identify the career which best suits them and where necessary to rectify or change their current path. On occasion, some schools or placement agents will provide vocational testing (a process which identifies key skills and areas of excellence which may be relevant to career choice) but failing this, there are professional service providers who will do this for a fee.

      Peer Pressure

      "But mom, everyone's doing it!" This is a phrase that every parent is bound to hear from time to time. Peer pressure can affect every single element of a child's life – from their academic performance, to what they wear, to whether they smoke, to what they have in their lunch box. The pressure that kids place on each other can be very powerful. And as a parent it's important to be aware of it so that you can be there for your child to help them deal with it. Let them know that the lines of communication are always open, and that they can talk to you about anything.

      Dealing with technology


      We often forget that the kids of today have so many more things that they need to deal with –so much has changed since we were kids. The entire world has transformed, and what it means to be a child has changed right along with it. As a parent, you should never forget the huge effect technology can have on their lives.

      Technology has a lot of positive attributes. But the problem is, it can also have extremely negative effects on kids. That's why it's important to be ever vigilant of what your children are doing with their technology.


      Technology can have the following negative effects:


      Impacts on social interaction

      • These days, social interaction between children happens through technology, rather than person to person. Face to face conversations are becoming a thing of the past, what with all the texting and instant messaging – which means our children are at risk of not learning good social skills outside of their technological space.

      Inactivity

      • As technology takes over our world, children are certainly not as active as they used to be. Instead of cycling down to their friend's house, they'll just chat to them on the internet. Instead of going outside to play, they'll simply stay inside to play video games indoors. It's important to set some sort of boundaries when it comes to the amount of time they're allowed to spend on the cell phone, on the internet, or watching TV.

      Obesity

      • Obesity goes hand in hand with lack of activity for many 21st century kids. And this is potentially one of the worst effects of technology as obesity is something that can follow your child throughout life. This is especially a cause for concern as it can be responsible for diseases such as diabetes and heart conditions.

      Lack of imagination

      • Technology can have the effect of stunting a child's imagination. These days technology is so advanced and graphics are so lifelike, that it's hard to think of something new when everything seems to have already been thought of already. What's more, the imagination of young children is never even given a chance if they don't get out in the world and learn about it.

      As with everything in life, it's important to find a balance with your children and technology. While they shouldn't be entirely connected to technology, they need to be able to use it in a positive way, as technology is how the world is run today. They need to be able to use their imagination. They need to learn about real life relationships. And that's why it's important that every parent takes responsibility for how technology touches their child.

      Bullying

      Like it or not, your child will probably be exposed to bullying in one form or another at some stage. Your child may even be the bully! Either way, the results can be potentially devastating. So it is vitally important that you discuss the topic with your child. Speak openly and seriously with your child and make them aware that they should always report any instances of bullying to you or their teachers, whether they or others are the victim. Ensure that your child understands the big difference between harmless teasing and harmful bullying. A question that should be asked is: are the actions of the perpetrator causing real fear or feelings of rejection and lowered self-worth in their target? If yes, there is probably bullying involved.

      Remember that school staff and prefects can also be bullies, and that the same rules and rights should apply even though they are the "authorities". Bullies themselves often act that way because they themselves have been bullied or are experiencing serious personal issues or circumstances, and they and the situation need to be treated with sensitivity and ideally by an objective, suitably qualified staff member.

      If your child is on the receiving end of bullying you run the risk of over reacting or not grasping the full situation should you get directly involved, so it is always best to approach any bullying issue through the correct channels, that is, the educators or if necessary, their superiors.

      State of education in South Africa

      Education is widely recognised as the most fundamental factor influencing the future success and economic growth of South Africa.

      It is the responsibility of all parents and indeed most adults of the current generation to ensure that we make provision for an educational structure that will help this country resolve the socio-economic problems that are the biggest obstacle to realising our country’s incredible potential.


    • Basic education

      School Year breakdown:
      In South Africa, school life spans 13 years or grades, from grade 0, otherwise known as grade R or "reception year", through to grade 12 or "matric" - the year of matriculation. The Department of Basic Education divides this schooling into four phases:


      Foundation phase - grades R to 3
      Intermediate phase - grades 4 to 6
      Senior phase - grades 7 to 9
      Further Education and Training (FET) - grades 10 to 12

      2012 South African school numbers:
      12.3 million learners
      386 600 teachers
      26 292 schools (including 1 098 registered independent or private schools)
      Roughly 6 000 are high schools (grade 7 to grade 12), and the rest primary (grade 0 to grade 6)
      Compulsory age: According to the South African Schools Act (RSA, 1996), schooling is compulsory for children aged 7-15 (or attendance in Grades 1 to 9, whichever comes first).
      School performance: The most important factor of scholastic achievement is the type of school a child attends. Across the board in 2012, pupils attending former "Model C" schools – a hangover from pre-democracy efforts to begin integrating schools in 1992 – did better academically than those attending fully-funded township schools where pupils do not pay fees.
      Rise in private school learners: The number of pupils opting out of the public school system to attend independent schools rose significantly from 256 283 in 2000 to 386 098 in 2009 – an increase of about 50 percent. The trend may suggest that parents are "losing faith in the public school system".
      Learner/teacher ratio: The average ratio of learners to teachers in government-funded public schools is 32.6 to 1. In private schools this ratio is 17.5 to 1.
      Global ratings (public expenditure): South Africa has one of the highest rates of public expenditure on education as a proportion of GDP (2009/10), at 6.3%.
      Global ratings (per learner expenditure): Our country's per learner expenditure is relatively good by international standards. Roughly R10 500 is spent for every primary school learner in South Africa, against R1 280 in Sub-Saharan Africa and R4 700 in Latin America.
      Global ratings (education quality): In 2012, South Africa is rated 127th out of 142 countries with regards to the quality of primary education.
      Global ratings (maths and science): South Africa is rated 138th out of 142 countries with regards to the quality of maths and science education.
      Literacy rates: The Report on the Annual National Assessment of 2011 released by the Department of Basic Education reveals a decline in literacy and numeracy rates among Grade 3 pupils since 2007. Grade 3 literacy rates declined from 36% to 35% while numeracy rates dropped from 35% to 28%.
      Teacher attendance: Research by the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) reveals that South African teachers spend less than 50% of their teaching time in class each week, many often bunking classes.
      Teacher accountability: The 2012 Director General of Basic Education, Mr Bobby Soobrayan, has raised concern about the lack of teacher accountability. He noted that despite being qualified on paper, many of the country's teachers did not understand their subjects or how to teach them and that many school principals did not appraise their teachers' performance as they should. Mr Soobrayan said that one of the department's biggest problems was improving the quality of education in poor areas.
      Internet access: In South Africa just over 3 000 schools (or 12.8%) have access to the Internet.

    • Higher education and training

      Further Education and Training refers to education and training provided from Grades 10 to 12, including career-oriented education and training offered in technical colleges, community colleges and private colleges. Students completing courses in FET colleges receive Certificates.

      Higher Education and Training is also referred to as tertiary education. The higher education band provides the highest level of education. Entry into higher education is through a Grade 12 pass or Grade 12 pass with exemption. Qualifications available after completion of tertiary education include:

      • Higher Certificate
      • Bachelor's Degree
      • Professional first degree Postgraduate
      • General first degree
      • Postgraduate Diploma
      • Honours Degree
      • Master's Degree
      • Doctor's Degree (e.g. PhD or Dphil)


      South Africa Higher Learning has:

      • 892 936 students enrolled in public higher education institutions in total (in 2010):
      • 726 882 undergraduate students
      • 138 610 postgraduate students
      • 46 579 academic staff employed in public higher education institutions, and 127 969 staff in total (in 2010)
      • 23 public higher education institutions, made up of:
      • 11 universities
      • 6 comprehensive universities
      • 6 universities of technology
      • 88 registered (and 27 provisionally registered) private higher education institutions (in 2012)

      In 2010 public higher education institutions awarded 153 741 qualifications at all levels:

      • 41 724 qualifications in business and commerce
      • 37 405 qualifications in science and technology
      • 74 612 qualifications in the human and social sciences
      • In 2010 the public higher education institutions produced:
      • 8 618 master's degrees
      • 1 423 doctoral degrees

      Completion record: On average, only 15% of students finish their degrees in the allotted time.
      Student/ staff ratio: The average student to staff ratio at the 23 universities (including universities of technology) in South Africa is 47:1.
      The lowest ratio belongs to Wits (University of the Witwatersrand) with 15 students to every faculty member.
      Rhodes University (in Grahamstown) and the University of Cape Town are next best, with 19 students per staff member.

    • Job opportunities in South Africa

      A big question for all parents is "Will my child be able to get a job when the time comes?" The fact is, currently the job market is not growing at the same rate as the country is producing matriculants and graduates, and the chances of employment are, theoretically at least, increasingly slim.

      Despite this, the reality is that South Africa remains in great need of properly qualified workers. The market for certain jobs is actually depleted and in desperate need of filling. Furthermore, it stands to reason that even where there is an oversupply of "qualified" candidates, those jobs which are available will go to the best candidates, i.e. those with the highest quality training and education.


      The opportunities for properly trained, skilled and qualified people therefore remain excellent despite the current economic context.

      South Africa really is alive with possibilities and education is the passport to capitalising on these.

      Top 10 South African industries in need of professionals:

      1. Finance – Accountants, Auditors, Bookkeepers
      2. Information Technology – Developers, Analysts
      3. Engineering - Engineers
      4. Fast Moving Consumer Goods (retail & wholesale) – Marketing managers, Media specialists
      5. Mining – Engineers, Geologists
      6. Manufacturing – Industrial designers, Engineers
      7. Medical – Medical Doctors, Specialists
      8. Motor – Technicians
      9. HR – Human Resources Managers, Recruiters
      10. Sales – the world always needs good sales people!

    • Employment facts - at a glance

      11 million new jobs by 2030: The South African National Planning Commission has set a target of 11 million new jobs by 2030. According to the plan, the economy needs both growth and jobs if it can successfully increase total employment from 13 million to 24 million people in two decades. This would reduce the unemployment rate by 27% in 2012 to 6% in 2030.
      Employment increase: Between 2001 and 2009 the number of people employed in South Africa across all industries and including the informal sector increased from 12.5 million to 13.4 million - an increase of 7%, or of approximately 900 000 net new jobs. South Africa was therefore creating an average of 100 000 net new jobs every year over the period since 2001. (SAIRR 2010)
      Increase in employment: Between 2001 and 2009 the construction, finance, and community and social services sectors all saw significant increases in employment.

      • Construction: The number of construction jobs increased from 642 000 to 1.1 million or by 74%.
      • Finance: Jobs in the finance sector increased from 1.1 to 1.7 million or by 51%.
      • Community & social: In the community and social services sectors, the number of jobs increased from 2.1 to 2.7 million or by 27%.



      Need for skilled labour: It is in tertiary sectors of the economy where most opportunity lies for job creation. This requires a far more highly skilled population than South Africa possesses. The key to the unemployment problem lies in skills and education development and therefore falls into the realm of Government responsibility. The first step in the formula for successfully tackling unemployment appears relatively simple – fix failing schools and create opportunities for under-privileged children to go to university and technical colleges.
      Secondary vs. tertiary educated employment: Of the 4 364 000 who have completed secondary school in South Africa, 1 504 000 are unemployed (34.5%). Against this, for tertiary-educated South Africans the percentage is just 5.5%.
      School leavers' employment: In 2011 among school-leavers (15-24 years) almost 50% remain unemployed. For women in this age bracket, unemployment sits at 54%, while among men it is 46%.
      Unemployment in SA: In 2009, some 24% of South Africans were unemployed- amounting to 4.1 million people. Among Black African youth unemployment ratios are almost twice as high as this.
      Job creation in SA: While SA has created an average of some 100 000 net new jobs every year since 2001, research has shown that it will have to create between five and seven times as many in order to make significant inroads into unemployment. (SAIRR 2010)
      Unskilled labour employment (agriculture & mining): Between 2001 and 2009 the total number of employed people in the agricultural sector fell from 969 000 to 710 000 or by 27%. The number of mining jobs declined from 488 000 to 319 000 or by 34%. The total number of trade jobs fell from 3.4 million to 3.0 million or by 12%. This highlights the need for a good education in order to secure a sustainable profession.

      REFERENCES:
      • Minister Angie Motshekga: Human Development Ministerial Cluster briefing post-State of the Nation Address, Cape Town, 17 February 2012
      • Minister Angie Motshekga: Address on the state of education at ANCYL NEC Lekgotla, St George Hotel, Pretoria: 12 February 2012
      • Global Competitiveness Report 2011/12
      • Fact a Day Eighty20
      • SAIRR &Stats SA
      • South Africa Survey 2010/2011: South African Institute of Race Relations
      • www.sairr.org.za