Announcing our Commercial Matric Program

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The problem

South Africa does not have enough Certified Bookkeepers and Accountants to meet the demand from industry.  The fact is that the majority of Grade 12 learners do not have the correct subjects to start tertiary studies in Bookkeeping or Accounting.  Also, there are many Grade 12’s who failed the Grade 12 exams and who cannot start any tertiary studies unless they have a Grade 12 or a Grade 12 Equivalent.

The current solution

At present, learners who failed their Grade 12 exams and who could not pass the supplementary exams have an option to go to a TVET college in an attempt to get a tertiary education.

The bad news is that those students are placed in a program where they actually have to repeat Grade 10, 11 and 12 before they could start a tertiary study program.

There is no sense in repeating three years of high school at a TVET college before starting a first-year tertiary program.

What if a learner could complete a Matric Equivalence program in less than six months and then start a program leading to a qualification in:

  1. Financial Accounting, or
  2. Business Management, or
  3. Entrepreneurship, or
  4. Office Administration, or
  5. Hotel Management, or
  6. Tourism Management

Our Program Details

Our Commercial Matric Equivalence Program leads to a National Certificate in Small Business Financial Management (the same level as the Grade 12 National Certificate).  This program has three professional exams, and after successful completion, students can start further studies in any of the programs offered by Growth Institute.

The three exams that students will write are:

  • Business Management I
  • Business Literacy
  • Bookkeeping to Trial Balance (no prior Bookkeeping knowledge required)

Because students write professional exams, the qualification that they receive will be recognised by a professional body.  This means that students can start the own small practice as soon as the meet the minimum requirements of the professional body.

Program Cost

The Commercial Matric Equivalence Program is priced at R 15 000 per person and the price includes:

  • Books
  • Exams fees
  • Class fees
  • VAT

Enrollment Dates

Class Start Date Final Registration Date Registration Fees Number of Places Available
14 January 2019 15 December 2018 50% of fees payable no later than 15 December 2018 100
21 February 2019 15 December 2018 50% of fees payable no later than 15 December 2018 100

LEARNERS MUST HAVE AT LEAST A VALID GRADE 11 SCHOOL REPORT TO QUALIFY

THIS IS A FULL TIME PROGRAM AND STUDENTS MUST ATTEND CLASSES AT OUR NORTHCLIFF CAMPUS.

ALL OUR STANDARD TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLY

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Making the right choices

chioices

Grade 12’s started to write their final exams and there is one question that is uppermost in their minds: “To which college or university must I go next year?”

Many have already been accepted at a college or at a university but for those who have not yet made up their mind, here are a few things to consider:

1      Professional recognition

Growth Institute’s programs are recognised by a number of professional bodies.  After your first’ year’s studies, you have the option to join a professional body and to start working as a professional on a part time basis while you study.

(Terms and conditions apply)

2      Standards

Growth Institute is a private college and all your exams are external professional exams.  You need to get a minimum of 60% in a subject to pass.  This high standard means that your qualification in worth more than that of someone who scraped through with a 50% pass mark.

3      Multiple exists

This means that you get a qualification after the successful completion of each study year.  If, for any reason, you are not able to go on to the second year but you passed all you subjects in the first year, you still get a qualification.  You do not walk away with nothing.

4      Best cost provider

Growth institute pays for all your books and exam fees.  The only cost you are responsible for is a once-off registration fee and your class fees. Until 31 December 2018, our prices are set as:

  • R 3 276 registration fee (incl. VAT)
  • R 3 276 per subject (incl. VAT)

As from 1 January 2019, the prices will be:

  • R 3 770 registration fee (incl. VAT)
  • R 3 770 per subject (incl. VAT)

Register before 31 December 2018 to benefit from the old prices.

5      Uninterrupted studies

Growth Institute has a strict zero tolerance policy when it comes to protests, etc. that disrupt classes somewhere else.  As a private college we reserve the right to suspend anyone that threatens the safety of any of our students or staff.

Issued by Growth Institute on 16 October 2018

Version 2018/01

www.growthinstitute.co.za

 

Tax Benefits for Parents

Students4

In tough economic times there are many parents who cannot afford the high cost associated with tertiary education.  Class fees are not the only thing to consider.  The cost of books and accommodation could outstrip the cost of class fees in some cases.  In addition, should a student quit his/her studies before completion, parents have lost a significant amount of investment into that student’s future.

What if there was a way that parents could get significant tax breaks for the years that their child studies towards a national qualification?  Would any parent refuse a minimum tax break of R 80 000 per year if the parent could qualify for such a tax break?

Learnerships are the key to affordable tertiary education in which many people could benefit regardless of race, creed or gender.

Understanding Learnerships

There is a general misconception that learnerships and tax rebates associated with learnerships are the exclusive domain of B-BBEE regulations.  The fact is that the National Skills Development Act provides all South Africans between the age of 18 and 35 the opportunity to obtain a first qualification through a learnership.  In addition, SARS allows tax rebates on all valid learnership regardless the race or gender of the learnership beneficiary.

Business owners who pay Skills Development Levies and who can show that their company is tax compliant can claim two learnership rebates from SARS:

  • A minimum of R 40 000 for every person (including the business owners’ child) when the learnership starts (as entry rebate)
  • A minimum of R 40 000 for every person who completes a learnership and who acquired a national qualification through the learnership (as exit rebate)

Learnerships are not there simply to check a few boxes for the sake of getting a few more points on a B-BBEE scorecard.  Such a practice is simply unethical and it does not benefit anyone.

If used correctly, learnership can be very powerful to deliver skills to the workplace and to recruit the best possible persons for a vacancy that a company may have.

Quality of Learnership Programs

There is a perception that qualifications obtained through a learnership are inferior because the qualification is awarded through SETA (Sector Education and Training Authorities).  Some learnership programs are managed and assessed by external quality assurance partners who demand that students write an external professional exam.  These types of learnerships have a required pass mark of 60% in all subjects compared to a required pass mark of 50% in other learnerships and in other academic programs.

Some qualifications, obtained through a learnership, are recognised by professional bodies.  This means that the student, who obtained a qualification through such learnership, has a high competency level and that he/she could be trusted by industry.  After all, having a qualification recognised by a professional body does open many doors for the youth.

Creating Work Through Learnerships

Parents and students always ask whether a qualification could guarantee someone employment.  The fact is that no academic institution can state that their qualifications guarantee that a person will be employed after he/she qualified.  Employing someone remains the prerogative of the employer.  And, since employers do not realise that some qualifications, earned through learnerships, are recognised by professional bodies, they miss out on adding potential value to their workforce.

Learnership programs recognised by professional bodies do allow a person to start his/her own professional practice within the practice guidelines of the professional body.  Thus, nothing stands in the way of someone to offer his/her professional services to small businesses in a community.

The idea that degrees are the only key that open the door to professionalism is an outdated myth.

Who would not want to earn an income with a lower qualification, that is recognised by a professional body, instead of having a degree and still have no way of generating an income?

Levels of Professional Designations

Students who have completed a learnership program recognised by a professional body could embark on a journey of lifelong learning.  They could enroll into a program at a next level and receive a higher professional designation after they completed the higher-level program.

Being part of a professional body, a person can also earn valuable CPD (Continuous Professional Development) points.  In addition, a person could become a member of another related professional body and expand his/her practice as soon as he/she meets the other professional body’s requirements.

Membership to some professional bodies also provide access to advanced degree programs for those who wish to eventually have a degree.  However, the greatest demand for skills in South Africa is in professions where a suitable diploma, recognised by a professional body, is in demand.  For a person who wants to have his/her own professional practice, early recognition by a professional body means early participation in economic growth.

International Recognition

The next question that parents and students ask is whether a qualification has international accreditation or recognition.

Some learnership programs are recognised by professional bodies that are represented in all of the Commonwealth countries.  This means that a person could find it easier than someone else to have their qualification accepted by a chapter of the same professional body in another country.

Looking Towards the Future

Anyone who can join a professional body soon after he/she has completed a learnership program has a greater chance to economic independence than those who have a degree not recognised by a professional body.

Dress Code versus School Violence

Jeppe Girls High School is in the news because certain dress code policies are deemed discriminatory[1].  In the past, other schools were in the news because of hairstyles, stovepipe trousers and a plethora of other dress code issues that seem to go contra schools’ disciplinary codes.

Arguments that dress codes contravene a school’s disciplinary codes, constitution or code of conduct must be re-examined.  Can schools still afford to have such a regimented view about dress codes?  Since when is dress code an indicator of bad conduct or bad discipline under learners?  Can dress code even be an indicator of scholastic performance as some may claim?

The conduct of learners on school premises should be the focus.  Daily, teachers are attacked, insulted, threatened by learners wearing their school uniforms and having hair styles conforming to all known and unknown school rules.  Did the Zeerust stabbing happen because of dress code issues or because of deep seated behavioural issues that led to a teacher being stabbed to death?

Teachers fear for their lives and this is not because learners use nail polish, make up, specific sorts of head dress or because learners wear certain types of shoes.  Instead teacher have to deal with learners who, regardless of socio-economic station, come out of toxic homes where parents reneged on their duty to teach the child basic manners and respect for teachers or for other people in general.

Interviews conducted with some first-year students at Growth Institute show that there are some undercurrents to be considered:

  1. First, there are small pockets of learners who believe that they have to misbehave because they are in the midst of some struggle politics. They believe that Government can be forced through violence to ensure service delivery, housing, infrastructure, etc.  For this group schools and teachers are symbols of a State that betrayed the youth and that has to take the brunt of the youth’s anger.
  2. Second, there are groups who consider bad behaviour in schools as a badge of honour. They argue that older generations also gave their teachers a hard time.  If, then, Grandpa could have given his teacher some form of backchat, then why can this generation not give teachers a hard time, too?  This group argues that there is no harm in their actions and that society overreact against their innocent horseplay.
  3. A third group are hardcore gangsters and they see the school as an extension of their territory. They own the right to sell drugs, alcohol, and blackmail a captive audience (other learners) much in the same way that prison gangs measure out their turf and battle for more control.
  4. The phenomenon of group thinking plays a powerful role in the lives of school learners. In order to be accepted by peers they sometimes have no choice in how they behave at school.  It is simply a matter of “either you are with us, or you are against us”.  Groupthink in schools is no longer just another theory to explain why South Africa sees so much school violence[2].
  5. Learners feel that teachers do not care whether the student will pass a grade or not. In some schools, teacher competency levels are shockingly low. Learners tell of teachers who are not able to explain concepts and who promptly threaten with punishment if a learner is “stupid”.  From time to time the media report about teachers that do not come to school or who attend to personal business while they are supposed to teach.
  6. Next, how can one teacher control a class of more than fifty learners? It has been proven more than once that underachievers in large classes are ignored and moved to some outer planet where they have to figure things out by themselves.  Underachievers experience frustration and they become angry at the whole education system.  No matter how good another teacher in another subject is, all teachers are seen as having an agenda of oppression against some learners.
  7. Underachievement and toxic households are not the only reason for ill-discipline in schools. In some of the upper crust schools, a sense of entitlement can be linked to discipline issues. Some learners really think that their parents can buy them out of any situation.  Some also think that they do not need schooling because their parents are wealthy enough so that the children never have to do a single day’s work.

We can conclude that disinterested teachers breed disinterested learners, and that overworked teachers breed disinterested learners.  On the other hand, teachers see the results of contemporary parenting skills.

And dress codes cannot hide the ugly underbelly of what teachers have to deal with on a daily basis.

[1] http://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/jeppe-girls-constitution-should-be-amended-education-department/

https://ewn.co.za/2018/10/01/law-firm-threatens-court-action-over-hijab-complaint-at-top-joburg-school

https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2018-10-01-jeppe-girls-high-halts-disciplinary-action-against-hijab-wearing-learners/

[2] http://ahero.uwc.ac.za/index.php?module=cshe&action=downloadfile&fileid=36807145012175749519581

 

Time to can the NC(V) Programs?

cancelled.png

Is it not time for the State to reconsider the efficacy of the NC(V)[1] program?  This article will discuss the trends observed in three programs, namely NC(V) Level 2, NC(V) Level 3 and NC(V) Level 4, the latter which is equivalent to a Grade 12 National Certificate.

For years, the State crowed over the success of Matric (National Senior Certificate) pass rates, but the pass rates for the NC(V) 4 program does not receive the same level of attention.  Although the State does publish the results of the NC(V) programs, that data is published about 18 months after the fact.  Data for 2016 was only released in March 2018.  Data for 2015 was not released, so researchers who track the pass rate for the NC(V) program would have to extrapolate data so that a complete picture could emerge.  In addition, data for NC(V) pass rates prior 2012 is sparse, so it is difficult to see how many people who started with NC(V) Level 2 programs prior to 2012 eventually ended up with an NC(V) Level 4 certificate.

In addition, the State manipulates data so that pass rates on the NC(V) program appear better than what they really are.  To determine the pass rates, the State dismisses how many people enrolled for a program compared to how many completed the program.  Instead, the State base the NC(V) pass rate on the number of persons who registered for exams and who subsequently passed the exams.

Even with the State’s manipulation of the NC(V) pass rates, not more than 37% of students complete an NC(V) program.  Clearly, the State must explain why the pass rates of the NC(V) programs – especially the NC(V) Level 4 – do not compare to the pass rates of Grade 12’s.

Throughput rates refer to the number of students who enrolled for a program and who progressed to a higher-level program in subsequent years.

  • In 2014, 95 112 students started the NC(V) Level 2. Of those, 21 562 pass their exams and could go to the next level in 2015.  77% of students who enrolled for NC(V) Level 2 either dropped out or had to repeat their year.
  • In 2015, there were approximately 15 000 students in the NC(V) Level 3 program passed their exams, thus only 15.77% of those who started in 2014 were able to move to the next level.
  • In 2016 only 9 100 students passed their exams, thus, 9.57% of those who started in 2014 ended up with a NC(V) Level 4 qualification that is supposed to be a Grade 12 equivalent.

State funding for the NC(V) programs are different to the same type of funding for public universities.  Funding levels for public universities are based on throughput, but for the NC(V) and other programs at TVET colleges, funding is based on headcount.  This funding approach creates the classic dilemma of quantity above quality.  Such an approach is populist thinking.  Skills cannot be improved by simply throwing money at it.

Note that the above levels of funding apply only the subsidies that the State pays towards students at TVET colleges.  It does not include the cost of salaries and building maintenance at said colleges.

Assuming that it costs the State R 10 000 per student per year in a TVET college, the State invested R 5.1 billion between 2014 and 2016 on which they have lost more than R 3.1 billion of their investment.  That is a wastage that no emerging market economy can afford.

From the States’ own reports one can extrapolate that the student subsidy bill for the period 2012 to 2018 is expected to be R 11.3 billion of which R 7 billion would be spent on students who have not passed their academic year.

There are some who argue that the number of students in TVET colleges are insignificant compare to those who are in other education streams.  The argument continues to say that the State’s expenditure on TVET students are insignificant compared to the rest of the education agenda.  Wastage remains wastage, no matter how one looks at it.  The fact that the State insists to fund TVET colleges based headcount and not based on throughput, must be questioned.   It simply reinforces a culture stating that underachievement is acceptable.

Statistics SA[2] estimates that there were 24 638 848 South Africans between 15 and 39 at the end of July 2017.  Of these only 336 695 (1.36%) will benefit from NC(V) programs between 2017 and 2018.  Yet the State is estimated to pay almost R 3.3 billion on programs with a failure rate touching 80%.

The NC(V) programs are meant to assist those who do not have formal schooling or who have not progressed beyond Grade 9.  The programs are designed to provide life skills and other skills that the youth may need to gain access to the workplace.  However, the low throughput rate of the NC(V) programs do not produce enough persons that could start higher level vocational programs or higher-level FET programs that could lead to National Diplomas or even degrees.  Nor do the NC(V) programs produce enough candidates that could access the workplace with relative ease.

It is very tempting to argue that the NC(V) programs do not have merit.  As simple statistic will show that 1 138 152 enrolled for NC(V) programs between 2012 and 2018) and that only 326 427 (28.68) would pass their exams. Keeping a program in which only a small fraction of the youth benefit, does not make sense.

Holding TVET colleges to account and funding them based on throughput and not on based headcount must be uppermost in the skills shortage agenda.

[1] National Certificate (Vocational)

[2] https://www.statssa.gov.za/publications/P0302/P03022017.pdf

 

OPINION: QUALIFICATIONS ALONE DO NOT RELIEVE SKILLS CRISES

Quals for State

The announcement from the Minister of Finance that officials must beef up on qualifications[1] is a step in the right direction.  However, qualifications alone are not going to solve the high levels of skills shortages experienced in the state departments.

In 2007, some officials were given an eight-year window in which to obtain qualifications.  That window has expired in 2015 and one must ask how many officials are indeed better qualified compared to their qualification status eleven years ago.

Demanding that officials must now have a qualification after eighteen months, begs the question on what sort of qualifications the minister has in mind.  The Minister’s 18-month demand could have different implications for different officials.

  • There could be officials who already have a qualification and who need to upskill because his/her current qualification is not adequate for the current role.
  • There could be officials who already have a qualification that is completely irrelevant to the current role. In such a case a new qualification must be achieved in 18 months
  • There could be officials who have no qualification whatsoever and who need a first qualification in 18 months. For this group, a National Diploma at level 6 may be out of reach within an 18-month window.  Level 6 National Diplomas take at least three years to complete, so a lower level qualification would have to be completed in the time frame envisioned by the Minister

Another question to ask is whether 18 months is adequate time for officials without qualifications and who are doing a job that requires a degree as a minimum competency?

Third, if officials still do not have qualifications after the last 8-year window has expired, is it not a signal to the State that so such officials are dead wood that have no place in any department?

Whilst qualifications are necessary, one must question some of the State’s employment policies – especially as those policies could have a negative impact on some sections of previously disadvantaged groups.  There are vacancies that existed for years and that are not yet filled because of dogmatic adherence to policy views that only a specific group of previously disadvantaged persons are suitable for that vacancy.  Would the State be willing to fill vacancies with competent people from other disadvantaged groups to improve the skills situation, or will a blind adherence to policies aggravate skills shortages in such a way that the status quo still prevails five years from now?

Dealing with a legacy in which appointments were made out of patronage and not merit is very difficult to change.  Government stands in front to a big courage test.  They would have to make a choice between relaxing draconian employment policies or perpetuating the skills shortage by demanding results that previous windows of opportunity did not achieve.

[1] https://mg.co.za/article/2018-08-09-nene-cracks-down-on-unqualified-finance-and-supply-chain-officials

New B-BBEE Codes: Bursary Incentives

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Newly proposed B-BBEE codes to incentivise companies when they offer bursaries[1] could help alleviate some of the skills shortages experienced in South Africa.  In terms of the new proposed codes, companies that offer bursaries could get additional points on the Skills Development Scorecard.  In addition, there is an expectation that any bursary spend on the new B-BBEE codes, will be tax deductible.

The new codes plan than 2.5% of a company’s leviable expenditure must be allocate to a bursary scheme.  Thus, a company with an annual payroll of R 30 million must allocate R 750 000 towards a bursary incentive.

Employers must consider how best to implement the bursary incentive in their organisations.  The scheme is a valuable tool providing current employees with a study opportunity so that the company can have a broader base of skilled staff.  One of the big gripes from employees is that they do not get study opportunities and that they then miss out on being considered for promotions.  On the other hand, the envisioned bursary scheme will be a valuable recruitment tool to attract Matriculants with good marks and to give them opportunities to study and get practical work experience. There are many Grade 12’s who have excellent marks but who are not able to get a tertiary qualification due to financial constraints.  They will benefit from the envisioned bursary scheme, and they have the potential to add value to future employers.  In a recent drive to recruit candidates for learnership openings at clients, Growth Institute noticed that more than 25% of applications received are from Grade 12’s who have very good school marks and who could benefit from the new bursary incentive.

Unfortunately, there is another side of the coin to consider.  The main concern is that employers could use the newly proposed codes as just another checklist to score points, not caring whether beneficiaries have passed the courses for which they received the bursary or not.  Seeing the newly proposed B-BBEE codes as a means to reduce taxes and nothing else will not have the desired effect.  There are far too many cases where persons are put on learnerships or study programs, knowing full well that they are not going to pass a single subject.  Such a practice is ethically questionable because it does not improve the levels of skills so desperately needed to sustain economic growth.

Under the current learnership schemes, there is a phenomenon known as “Professional Learners”.  What it means is that some of the youth migrate from one learnership to another.  They would benefit from Learnership A but since that learnership does not automatically lead to employment, they migrate to Learnership B in the hope to land employment.  In addition, some learners migrate from learnership to learnership, never completing a single program.

Technically, there is a mechanism preventing someone to move to another learnership without completing a prior program.  How well this mechanism is enforced is debatable and requires some scrutiny.

If the new codes about bursaries come into effect it would be beneficial if checks and balances exist to catch out people that migrate from one bursary incentive to another; never completing a qualification.

[1] https://www.thedti.gov.za/gazzettes/41709.pdf