At times we may have to start from the bottom and progress to where we want to go; the same applies to education. Many institutions offer different qualifications to enable students to access higher education and move to higher-level qualifications to achieve their career or life goals. Education has become a lifelong requirement as the world is so dynamic. To keep up with this fast-paced environment, one needs to keep learning to remain empowered and relevant.
Whether you are looking to enter the world of work as an employer, employee, or even start an NGO, it is essential to arm yourself with skills to propel your venture or career forward. A wise man once said that education offers you the ability to see things differently, solve problems and create opportunities.
Education can be viewed from different perspectives. This could be addressing skills shortages, grooming future entrepreneurs with skills to move their businesses forward or empowering the future workforce. Factors such as affordability or a Higher Certificate pass in matric may leave some feeling like they do not have what it takes to progress to higher education. There are academic pathways which permit one to start with a higher certificate and articulate on to a diploma or degree.
How do pathways work?
Pathways provide access and the flexibility to work around your pocket and learning abilities. One can start with a higher certificate and progress to a higher-level qualification, such as a diploma or degree. Looking at the Faculty of Commerce at IIE Rosebank College, you can begin with an IIE Higher Certificate in Business Management. Once you have completed this qualification successfully, you can progress to the IIE Bachelor of Business Administration to refine your business skills. The benefit of starting with an IIE Higher Certificate is that it is an accredited qualification at an NQF Level 5, empowering one to start work immediately after completing their studies.
How to get started?
As with many things, thorough research and asking for advice is the first step. The internet has made information accessible; we now have mini-PCs in our pockets, with some mobile phones performing even better than entry-level PCs. Access to information means that one can research any career you may want to pursue. These days, one can also verify the customer service offered by institutions as well as the quality of qualifications offered by referring to online reviews. Once you have done your research, choose your institution based on your preferences i.e. safety, cost, accessibility, to name a few. Finally, ask for advice before committing yourself. Many institutions have student advisors who offer advice on study modes, qualification types, and career paths. A student advisor is there to assist in aligning one's career goals, academic abilities, and available study opportunities.
The benefits of pathways
Pathways enable access and progression for different learners. This widens access for students who may not meet academic admission requirements into their desired careers. With access comes a responsibility to offer flexible modes of delivery to accommodate the changing demographics of the student population. When considering a higher learning institution, it is essential to consider modes of delivery, accreditation of qualifications, and the registration status of the institution. The proof is in the pudding - chat to some of the current students or alumni to verify facts.
Issued by: IIE Rosebank College, a brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE).
For more information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, please visit www.rosebankcollege.co.za
As Grade 11s head into the final quarter of the year after the holidays, they are advised to use the coming months before they start their final year of school to implement a strategy that will smooth their Matric journey and ensure maximum success, an education expert says.
"There are some sure-fire ways you can ensure you finish your school career successfully, and set yourself up for entering higher education on the path towards a fulfilling career," says Wonga Ntshinga, Senior Head of Programme: Faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest and most accredited private higher education provider.
"It is important to seize the day, however, and make optimal use of the weeks and months ahead, as time is now on your side," he says.
Ntshinga says it is to be expected that there will remain some challenges associated with this period in history in the year to come, and some new challenges may arise.
"The only certain thing at this stage is uncertainty. So it is crucial to use times of relative calm to fortify yourself and your academic career by paying attention to those matters within your control. The last quarter and the December holidays provide you with this opportunity to get in the right frame of mind by finishing the year strong and considering your future path without the pressure next year will bring," he says.
Wonga advises Grade 11s to invest in their future now by taking the following steps:
1) SHOOT FOR THE STARS WHEN SITTING FOR YOUR GRADE 11 FINALS
"Grade 11 is an opportunity to hedge your bets against any potential problems that may arise in Grade 12, whether academically or personally," says Ntshinga.
He says many higher education institutions will make a provisional offer based on a learner's Grade 11 performance, which means that learners can get time-consuming higher education applications out of the way early in the year. Additionally, if they don't perform optimally in Matric, good results in Grade 11 provide them something to fall back on.
"So as you head back to school for the fourth term, resolve to do everything in your power to finish the year as strong as possible and to perform to the best of your ability in the exams," Ntshinga says.
2) TAKE SOME TIME DURING THE HOLIDAYS TO WORK ON SUBJECTS REQUIRING ATTENTION
After the exams, make sure you get some well-deserved rest following a tough year. And then, when you have relaxed sufficiently, invest a small amount of time working on concepts or subjects you found tricky during the year or which showed up as areas for improvement during the exams, Ntshinga advises.
"By investing a few days during the holidays, you can significantly strengthen your foundations going into Matric. Working on just a handful of core concepts or challenges while you have free time will let you enter the new year with a stronger foundation and momentum, allowing you to spend more time on the new subject matter in Matric," he says.
3) PLAN YOUR YEAR AHEAD
"During the holidays, draw a calendar outline of next year and note down important dates," says Ntshinga.
He says the calendar overview should denote the start and end of school terms and when exams and significant events are likely to happen – even if those dates have not been fixed yet.
"By conducting this exercise, you will create a deep understanding of how much time you'll have available to study and revise next year – spoiler alert, it is less than you think - and by when certain actions need to happen. This will allow you to calmly, and timeously master work, rather than having to anxiously cram as the finals and other deadlines creep up on you."
4) TAKE TIME TO THINK OF YOUR FUTURE PLANS
By now, most Grade 11s should have a good idea of what they want to do after Matric.
"If you do not yet know, or are undecided about your plans going into 2023, now is the ideal time to consider the matter – before you go to Matric," says Ntshinga.
"The reason for this, is because you will have very little uninterrupted time to consider your future plans during your Matric year, and leaving it so late means that there will be many other things competing for your attention. So in order not to have to make a decision under pressure and without clarity of thought by the time application due dates roll around, start considering and cementing your future path as soon as possible."
For those learners who don't yet know what they want to do after Matric, the December holidays provide the perfect opportunity to consider their plans, Ntshinga says.
"During your downtime, spend some time looking at the websites of respected higher education institutions, public and private, and reach out to current and former students to hear about their experiences studying there – particularly during lockdowns. Speak to a student advisor, determine which qualifications match your aspirations, and find out what application requirements apply for different qualifications. Having this information before you head into Matric will help focus your attention on what you need to achieve and how you need to perform to make your career dreams come true."
5) GET SOME GOOD HABITS GOING
The past two years have been extremely stressful, and next year seems likely to continue in a similar fashion, at least for a while.
"Even if the world returns completely to pre-Covid times, what the pandemic experience has shown us is that we need to work on building good and healthy habits and work on maintaining mental, physical and emotional wellbeing," says Ntshinga.
"So starting right away, if you have not yet done so, start introducing small, positive new habits into your daily life, and work on leaving behind those habits and behaviours that no longer serve you. In these uncertain times, sometimes the only thing we can control is ourselves and how we respond to external challenges. By building your mental, physical and emotional resilience little by little each day, you will be rewarding yourself with the best possible chance of attaining future success."
The COVID-19 global pandemic has caused a shift in the workplace. This new shift will most likely become the norm for professionals and organisations globally. An international study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found that over 53% of South Africans would prefer to work from home at least occasionally, post the pandemic. South Africans have embraced remote work. The study found that 44% of South Africans would prefer to work from home permanently while the global average was 24%. This may be understandable given the amount of time spent stuck in traffic and the ever-increasing fuel price.
Working from home presents various advantages e.g. the ability to be around family during the work day, saving on transport costs and the flexibility of working around one's home life. On the other hand, working remotely has resulted in a blend of work and home life which can be overwhelming. This can sometimes mean choosing between family time or quickly submitting your "last" email. Sometimes we push the workday longer by taking that last business call at 6 pm, instead of teatime with the family or playtime with the kids. It is essential to set boundaries to have a balance between family and work time. How can one achieve balance?
DEVELOP AND STICK TO A ROUTINE
Treat each workday like you would if you were going to the office. This can be as simple as making your bed instead of starting your day while in bed. Wake up early, take a shower, make yourself /family breakfast, and get ready to start your tasks. The benefit of not having to drive to the office is that you can spend that extra time with "self" or with your loved ones – such as driving your kids to school, watching Peppa Pig with your toddler, meditating, or going for a morning run. Routines are there to ensure you stick to your daily goals and honour them.
KEEP TRACK OF WORKING HOURS
It is natural to have the pressure to prove that you are working while you are at home. However, it is essential to remember that you still have a life outside the office. Create a daily to-do list and allocate times for each task. Avoid distractions and slacking during your working hours; this will help you finish your day on time.
It is easy to lose track of time while catching up with family, resulting in missed deadlines and decreased productivity. Set clear boundaries with the people around you by making them aware of your work commitments. This is where a to-do list can come in handy.
Working without breaks will lead to a breakdown and decreased productivity. Take a walk around your yard, have a snack with your family, watch your favourite comedy or rest for a few minutes in between meetings and tasks. Take your lunch break; this will enable you to keep to your meals. Missing meals during the day can also contribute to one feeling sluggish.
SET UP A HOME OFFICE
Set up an area at home with a desk and comfortable chair to ensure you have space in your home where you can focus. An "office" at home will make taking breaks easier as you can walk away from this space or close this door at the end of the workday. This will also make your virtual meetings easier from home.
USE YOUR LOVED ONES FOR SUPPORT
It can be challenging at times to be a working professional. Pause and ask for help. Working from home means you can pause when you feel overwhelmed and talk to someone you trust. Use the opportunity when it arises to lighten the load and reboot.
As we transition to different ways of living, working and communicating, it is essential to remember that you are not alone. Many companies have counselling services available for their employees should they need to talk to someone. There are also NGOs, such as the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), that one can use. Mental health is as important as physical and emotional well-being. Balancing work and family responsibilities is not easy. Talk to your manager or supervisor to make working arrangements that will work for you without affecting your productivity or family life.
Issued by: IIE Rosebank College, a brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE).
For more information, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Alternatively, please visit www.rosebankcollege.co.za
A major development arising from the changing world of work over the past year and a half, is the growth in the gig worker economy - that is, professionals who don't necessarily get employed full-time at a company, but sell their time and expertise to multiple clients as consultants.
In the past, permanent employment was for the most part the sought-after norm, but in recent years – even before the pandemic hit – young people increasingly sought more flexibility in the workplace. This trend was predicted by the World Economic Forum in its Future of Jobs Report of 2018, and is becoming firmly entrenched as the career path of choice for those who excel at what they do and are able to work productively, independently and at a standard that means their skills are sought after by companies outsourcing work to independent contractors.
Just like the historic jobs market however, competition is stiff in the gig economy, and those who wish to pursue this route must ensure they get a solid grounding in all the skills required to become successful.
"In the gig economy, specialisation is key and generalist skills are non-negotiable," says Dr Gillian Mooney, Dean: Academic Development and Support at The Independent Institute of Education, SA's largest and most accredited private higher education provider.
"You have to be very clear about what it is that you offer, and you have to ensure that you are the very best you can be in that field, combined with a healthy dose of being able to run the logistics of your consulting business.
Dr Mooney says it is now well-known in which professional fields specialists will be in high demand in coming years, for example anything AI, Big Data, Internet of Things, Robotics, and Encryption-related. The creative industry is also a major field in which outsourcing will continue to grow, she says.
"So what you need to do when deciding what to study now, is to match your interests to these future growth fields, and then see what options are available at various higher education institutions, because the offering varies widely in terms of curriculum content and quality, and there are constantly new programmes being developed that may not have existed a year or two ago."
For those who have a first degree, it may also be a smart investment to continue to specialise in their field by pursuing a post-graduate qualification, says Dr Mooney.
Additionally, while the intention is to prepare for the immediate future continued professional development has become necessary for everyone as a matter of course, because the world of work requires ongoing adaption and upskilling as a result of constant and rapid change.
"Doing an additional year of specialisation in your field, or investing in a few short courses to broaden your skills, is a great addition not only to your portfolio in a crowded market, but also to the development of your transferrable skills and industry contacts which are essential in the gig economy. As you continue to deliver high quality work, clients often want to work with you on other projects not necessarily within your main field. If you are able to constantly hone your skills and expand your skillset, that means you will be able to take on more and more diverse projects."
Dr Mooney says there are a number of exciting new courses being offered from next year in growth fields which will enhance a candidate's chances in both the traditional world of work as well as the gig economy. These include a Higher Certificate in Mobile Application and Web Development which will be offered at The IIE's Rosebank College, Vega, Varsity College and IIE MSA; a Post Graduate Diploma in Data Analytics (Varsity College); and a PhD in Brand Leadership, the only one of its kind in Africa, offered at The IIE's Vega, to name a few.
"These are only a fraction of the new qualifications that will be available from 2022, and there are a host more that have been developed and implemented in the past two to three years. The important thing when deciding what you are going to study next year after Matriculating, or what you are going to study if you seek to develop your professional skills with a view to making a change in your career path, is to ensure you do careful research about your options so that you don't miss out on the exciting new fields of study developed specifically with the future in mind.
"Confining your search only to those fields that were historically prominent is by definition not a forward-looking strategy, and may result in a disappointing investment of your time and money. The best way to decide on a qualification, especially if you don't have a clear direction which way you want to go, is to leave as many options open as possible in terms of the structure of your career – i.e. you will be able to be employed as well as work for yourself as a consultant, and then to match that which you are good at and passionate about to careers of the future and the qualification that will get you there."
There is a lot that no one tells you about life after graduating that your plans may not be picture perfect. Delays and disappointments are a part of life. However, this does not mean that you can't pursue your dreams or fulfil your purpose. Just like Ndingoho Reedani, an IIE graduate from Rosebank College, the universe might have a different plan for you. Ndingoho tells us more about how she faced and embraced life after graduating and her blossoming business ventures.
Tell us about yourself?
I am a 24-year-old entrepreneur from Venda. Those who know me well will tell you that I am easy-going, I love laughing and meeting people. This ability to network and collaborate has been a significant advantage in growing my business.
What did you study at IIE Rosebank College and why?
I studied the IIE Diploma in Journalism at IIE Rosebank College. While growing up, I didn't know that my love for radio and the news would lead me to this qualification. My journalism journey started in high school while researching tertiary studies; that's how I discovered Journalism.
Looking back at what you studied at IIE Rosebank College, did it play a role in grooming you into the young creative businesswoman you are today?
Yes, my qualification played a significant role in grooming me for my business ventures. The different modules that I did in college sparked other interests in me. In my second year, there was a module called Introduction to Publishing, and it was my absolute favourite. Design was a core focus for this module; I took the opportunity to learn as much as possible to perfect my skills. These skills came in handy when I registered my company NdeeDesigns, in 2020.
When did you decide to start your own business?
I have always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I thought it would happen later in my life and not at 22. After getting my qualification at IIE Rosebank College, I planned to work for a radio station or broadcasting channel; however, fate had other plans. It was challenging finding work. To avoid depression, I started watching make-up videos on YouTube – and learnt how to do my make-up. I was not going to give up, I couldn't find a job, so I created a job. The more I watched, the more my interest grew. I decided to create an opportunity for myself and registered a beauty company, Miss Ndee Beauty.
I am also a realist and thrive when faced with challenges. One thing the pandemic has taught me is the value of diversification and different revenue streams. I saw the effects of the pandemic on many small businesses, and I wanted to use my love for design to help revive them. In 2020 I started designing social media posts for small businesses. Being a small business myself, I charged an affordable fee as I understand the resource challenges of small businesses. On the day I announced the new venture - Ndee Designs, I got five clients. I am in awe of how blessed I have been, but it has not been without hard work and many challenges.
What risks have you taken to build your brand, and do you have regrets?
I used my savings to buy equipment for my business. For months I was not making money and running at a loss. I do not have any regrets because I would not be where I am today if I had not taken the risk. I am proud of myself for not giving up.
We have looked at your social media profile, and your work is fantastic. Where do you get your inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from many sources; I get inspired by other creatives. I love what I do and sharing content with my followers and customers inspires and keeps me going.
What are your aspirations, where do you want to see your brand?
Anything is possible. That's the motto I live by. I am the village girl who never conforms or believes that the sky is the limit. I want to build an international beauty brand. I dream of Miss Ndee Beauty being a global beauty brand with various products and make-up artists. I want to grow Ndee Designs into an agency that gives young industry professionals the platform to grow their brands.
Where and how do you market your business?
I mainly depend on social media advertising and referrals from previous clients. To survive in business, customer service and a solid digital presence are essential.
What advice would you give to an aspiring young entrepreneur who is building their brand?
Never doubt yourself. You are your number one cheerleader and critique. Treat all your clients as you would want to be treated. There is no right formula to running a business. The key is to learn from your mistakes and do better.
Issued by: IIE Rosebank College, a brand of The Independent Institute of Education (The IIE).
For more information, please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, please visit www.rosebankcollege.co.za
If you Google moments that are milestones in one's life, you may find events like starting your first job, giving birth, wedding, divorce, death, a disability or a life-threatening illness. For an educational institution like IIE Rosebank College, graduation is one of the most significant milestones.
There are moments on campus that both lecturers and students live for; graduation is one of them. Graduation is a time for staff and lecturers to witness the success of their students. It is a time for parents, siblings and grandparents to see the results of their sacrifices. It is a time to reminisce and remember loved ones we may have lost along the journey that are no longer around to share the celebratory moment.
Graduation is a time to pause, reflect and plan. It can be challenging to know which steps to take after graduation. Fortunately, we have outlined some steps for your consideration below.
THANK YOUR LOVED ONES
Life is short. Use every opportunity to let your loved ones know you are grateful and that you love them. Show them that their sacrifices have not been in vain and that you appreciate their efforts. Tell them you love them every opportunity you get, not just on your graduation day.
SET YOUR CAREER GOALS
Your qualification is only the beginning. Determine what willmake you happy and what is worth spending your time on. Start with your happiness and write your goals down.
REVIEW AND CLEAN UP YOUR CV
Your CV is your gateway to the workplace. Make sure it reflects your skills, capabilities, qualifications, and any other information that may increase your chances of securing a job. Asking for assistance is an essential life skill you will need in the workplace or as an entrepreneur.
EXPLORE INTERNSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
Internships are a great way to start your career while gaining experience to get to your desired job. During your internship, you will learn business skills, experience the world of work, and begin growing your network.
A qualification does not always have to mean a traditional job. How about you become the employer? The internet has made access to information easy, so use it. Find entrepreneurial opportunities to apply your talents, skills, and your qualification and start your venture.
START YOUR NEXT QUALIFICATION
You may be in the fortunate position to start another qualification. You can create a new career path or enhance the qualification you already have. Lifelong learning is a necessity for the modern employee or employer. Competition for jobs is rife, and the workplace is dynamic. The candidates that will stand out are the most versatile, have the best attitudes and are the most skilled. Employers are looking for employees who can settle in with the least effort, are open to learning and bring a different perspective to drive their organizations forward.
Many institutions offer Graduate Empowerment Programmesto assist first-time job seekers in preparing for the world of work. Find your institution's graduate programme, then ask for help and guidance. Looking for a job or finding your feet after completing your studies can be lonely and challenging. Look around you, focus, and take advantage of the free resources available to you.
It is not easy to get your first job. However, it is possible with the right attitude and a spirit of never giving up. Some jobs you apply for may not materialize. However, many more doors of opportunity will open as you persevere. Some doors you will need to build yourself or use the window to succeed.
The world is evolving, and so is the way education is delivered. The past year has exposed us to different ways of learning, engaging, and collaborating. Traditionally, we studied face-to-face, then online, and now the combination of online and face-to-face learning, known as blended learning.
As South Africa continues to observe different alert levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some tertiary academic activities still occur online. This may be the case for the remainder of the 2021 academic year and beyond.
Technology has enabled so many of us. SMEs can now advertise like the big corporates; anyone can now become a content producer and share stories and, in some cases, produce and air movies thanks to YouTube and other social media platforms. Technology has also empowered and allowed many to fit studying into their lives. So, why not use technology to enhance learning in and out of the classroom?
Let’s explore the main differences between online and blended learning.
Blended learning is a learning approach that combines contact and online learning activities. Students also have the opportunity to interact with lecturers and fellow students in the classroom and online. Blended learning is about using technology as a tool to enhance the learning experience. It has grown over the years with more and more educational institutions introducing this method of learning. Through the blended approach, students cansharpen their 21st-century skills such as creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.
Online learning involves 100% online delivery. All activities are completed online without physical engagement between the tutor and students. This mode of study allows students the flexibility to earn, live and study at the same time. Online learning can cost less than traditional learning methods, as there are no transport and accommodation costs that need to be considered. Students would, however, need a reliable internet connection and device to engage, collaborate and conduct research for their studies. Students who register for online learning at IIE Rosebank College have access to study material at no additional cost.
Technology is just a tool, and students would still need support and guidance to complete their qualifications. A commitment by both the lecturer and student is essential. These are some of the support services offered to IIE online students at IIE Rosebank College:
• Programme success tutors who provide teaching and learning support.
• Online information specialists to assist with writing, referencing, and other library resources.
• Student Wellness Managers to help students cope psychologically. Managing work, family, and studies can be overwhelming without relevant support structures to help students cope.
Whether online or a blend of both online and face-to-face learning, students are empowered to take better control of their studies. Independent learning requires discipline, hard work and commitment to complete your qualification.
Lifelong learning is essential in today’s ever-changing world. Whether you like a mix of online and blended, online-only, or face-to-face only, we have an IIE qualification to suit your specific needs. Second-semester registration is now open at IIE Rosebank College for online learning.
Momentum is the ability to keep going, which is, in essence, what tertiary life should be. The ability to keep your momentum will be the difference between completing your qualification successfully or dropping out.
Higher Education is an investment that requires effort, passion, and time. It is one investment that no one can ever take away from you. You can use it to find a job, get a promotion or even start a business. As we approach the second semester, we have outlined a few hacks to help keep you going. It is crucial to keep moving to obtain your qualification in record time.
KEEP ATTENDING YOUR CLASSES
Now that it is Winter, it will become even harder to get out of bed in the mornings. It may seem easier to stay in bed rather than attend your classes, whether online or face-to-face. It is essential to remember that in tertiary, you are accountable for and to yourself. Class attendance is crucial to completing your qualification. The classes are designed to simplify the subject matters, empowering you to grasp concepts quickly, prepare for your exams, ace your assignments, and decrease your stress levels. Class attendance is also about collaboration and sharing ideas with peers.
COMPLETE ALL YOUR ASSIGNMENTS
Your final mark is a combination of assignments, assessments, and your exam. If you do well during the semester by completing all your assignments, Portfolios of Evidence (POEs), and assessments, you will have a better semester mark, decreasing the load when preparing for the exams. Pace yourself, keep a timetable and have a to-do list. Most institutions also offer support workshops or tutors to assist with plagiarism, time management and more – use the resources available to lighten your load.
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
The internet is a tool every student should use to help them with their studies. Digital resources such as YouTube can present real-life applications of what you have covered in class and present different perspectives to broaden your view. The internet also offers a network of working individuals ready to assist with real-life experiences of the subject matter you are studying. Networking while you are still learning is an excellent way of preparing for the world of work.
Tertiary years are a great way to meet new people and build your network with peers, lecturers, and mentors. Engaging in campus life, whether online or face-to-face, is an excellent way of finding different perspectives and learning to work within a team. Collaboration is an essential skill for the world of work and life in general.
Small sacrifices are essential to reach one's goals. Start strong and finish strong; remember to engage, collaborate, and act.
One in eight young people between the ages of 5 and 19 are at risk of developing a mentaldisorder, of which Mood and Anxiety Disorders are the most prevalent. Emphasis on the mental health of young people recently increased as a result of the disruption caused by Covid -19 and lockdowns which exacerbated challenges that existed before the pandemic. It has therefore once again become important to not only start talking about the mental health of young people, but also to recognise symptoms and know where to look for help, an education and mental health expert says.
“The prevalence of mood difficulties among young people is increasingly becoming a concern internationally,” says Dr Jacques Mostert, Brand Academic Manager at ADvTECH, SA’s leading private education provider. Dr Mostert holds a PhD in Psychology of Education and is globally renowned in his field, having conducted experiential research in education in Denmark, the UK, South Africa and The Netherlands.
Dr Mostert notes that an estimated 24% of teens between the ages of 11 to 19 suffer from depression caused by the home environment, 25% are subject to cyber-bullying and loneliness, 92% of LGBT youth report depression during the ages of 11 to 19, and 80% of teens between the ages of 11 to 19 report a sense of isolation that causes them to feel depressed.
“It is very important to understand the signs of depression, so that action can be taken timeously should concerns about the mental wellbeing of a child arise,” says Dr Mostert.
“Teachers and parents can recognise the onset of depression when a sudden change in behaviour becomes apparent and continues for at least 3 weeks or longer. These include an atypical lack of energy, becoming increasingly irritable and agitated without a rational explanation, and a sense of being down in the dumps for no reason.”
Some adolescents may withdraw from friends and family over a sustained period of time, he notes, adding that this is especially concerning if this is atypical of the normal interactions of the teen.
“Another red flag is the inability to concentrate in class where ADHD or other non-neurotypical difficulties are not present, as well as regularly failing to complete classroom and homework assignments in time or often being late to class because of feeling overwhelmed.
“This, coupled with unusually defiant behaviour towards teachers and other school staff, especially if this is non-typical behaviour, may indicate that the teen is experiencing difficulties with mood and affect.”
In the same way as with anxiety difficulties and disorder, the student often asks to go to go home because of feeling ill with no discernable symptoms. The teen often has days off from class time due to doctor’s appointments, hospitalisation, or inability to attend classes.
Changes in sleep patterns, a significant weight loss or gain in a short period of time and disinterest in hobbies or areas where the teen previously showed interest also raise concerns about the mental wellbeing of the teenager.
Finally, a loss of future-mindedness, or talk about death or suicide, engaging in risky or self-destructive behaviour (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or cutting, for example) are clear signs of the teen suffering from mood difficulties or a possible mood disorder.
“Not all of the above need to be present, but if there is a discernable and drastic change in a young person’s behaviour which continues for a period of several weeks or longer, intervention is necessary,” Dr Mostert says.
He says first steps teachers and parents can take to help their child deal with depression at home and in the classroom include:
• DEVELOPING COLLABORATIVE RELATIONSHIPS
Parents of teenagers should develop the habit of listening with empathy and not give in to the easier way out of lecturing. However, it must also be said that parents should be gentle yet persistent when it comes to holding realistic expectations of their child.
• AVOIDING NEGATIVE TECHNIQUE STRATEGIES
Punishment, sarcasm, disparagement, and passive-aggression is a way of affirming the depressed teenager’s belief of not being worthy or a valued member of the family or society. Parents must be willing to be vulnerable and acknowledge their own and their teenager’s feelings, especially at a time of disruption such as the Covid – 19 pandemic.
• NOT LOWERING EXPECTATIONS OR GIVING UNEARNED REWARDS
Realistic and earned rewards is one of the most important tools in a parent’s approach to supporting their depressed child. The sense of having earned a reward, and receiving acknowledgement for an aspect of their life they find significant affirms a sense of value. However, the opposite is also true. Unearned praise leaves the teenager with a feeling of inauthenticity and affirms their already negative self-perception.
• PLANNING FOR EARNED SUCCESS
Activities that are of interest often fall by the wayside when teenagers are depressed. Often parents try to arrange and engage in these activities as a panacea to their teenager’s depression. However, this may exacerbate the young person’s feeling of worthlessness. Parents should find novel and interesting activities that may lead to earned success. This may include DIY activities around the house or asking for help with a specific app or technology in which, when success is achieved, due praise is earned.
“Most importantly, parents should trust their gut,” Dr Mostert says.
“If your teenager insists that nothing is wrong, despite a prolonged period of depressed mood or being diagnosed with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, parents should trust their instincts and seek help.
“Should the above techniques not bring about an improvement in the mental wellbeing, parents should seek advice from their medical practitioner or a psychiatrist.”
The ADvTECH Group, a JSE-listed company, is Africa’s largest private education provider and a continental leader in quality education, training, skills development and placement services. The Group reports its performance in a segmental structure reflecting the Schools and Tertiary as two separate education divisions, and Resourcing as the third division. ADvTECH’s Schools division comprises 10 brands with more than 100 schools across South Africa, including Gaborone International School in Botswana and Crawford International in Nairobi, Kenya. It owns 9 tertiary brands, across 30 campuses across South Africa and the rest of Africa, and its higher education division, The Independent Institute of Education, is SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider. ADvTECH’s 9 resourcing brands places thousands of candidates annually, assisting graduates to make the transition from the world of study to the world of work.
ABOUT Dr Jacques Mostert
A renowned educational expert with more than two decades of experience locally and internationally, Dr Mostert holds a BEd Honours (Cum Laude) and MEd in Curriculum Design from University of Johannesburg. He completed a UK Qualified Teacher Accreditation from the University of East London in the UK as well as a Postgraduate Diploma in Social, Emotional and Behaviour Difficulties from Leicester University in the UK. He completed his PhD in Psychology of Education through the University of Johannesburg. Dr Mostert was awarded the Outstanding grade for Teaching and Learning by Her Majesty’s Office in Standard in Education (Oftsed).
Following his work in the UK, Dr Mostert was appointed Head of Department of Psychological Sciences at the American University of the Middle East in Kuwait. He managed qualitative and quantitative research projects, has published peer reviewed articles in international journals, presented and international education conferences, led and presented staff development seminars and is currently the Academic Manager of ADvTECH’s Niche School Brands in South Africa. Dr Mostert has conducted experiential research in education in Denmark, the UK, South Africaand The Netherlands.
THEY’RE BACK! HOW TO MAKE THE BEST OF (COVID
SAFE) OPEN DAYS
In coming weeks, several higher education
institutions will again start hosting on-site Open Days following the virtual
events held last year during the height of the Covid pandemic. But although
these events will once more be held in-person, prospective students are urged
to register as soon as possible, given that numbers will be limited due to
Covid safety regulations.
“Those who are serious about furthering their
studies next year, and are investigating all their options regarding what the
best qualification will be for them, and where they should study, will benefit
tremendously from being able to attend these Open Days,” says Peter Kriel,
General Manager at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest and
most accredited private higher education institution.
Kriel says it is more important than ever before to
carefully consider one’s options, given how the world of work has changed in
the past year, and also because Covid and lockdowns really highlighted which
institutions were able to continue delivering the highest quality academic
excellence without losing academic days. Prospective students attending Open
Days should specifically ask the question about how the learning experience was
maintained during the lockdowns, says Kriel, given that it is not out of the
question that there may be disruptions to in-person teaching again in future.
“The days are long gone where Matrics and those who
want to pursue a post-graduate qualification had to do little more than sign up
at any university for a popular or traditionally prestigious degree. Anyone who
wants to go study now, must ensure they are very clear about the connection
their chosen qualification will have to real-world opportunities in a few
years’ time, as well as the institution’s ability to continue in the face of
external challenges,” says Kriel.
He says the first step prospective students need to
take, is to find the websites of respected private or public universities and
higher education institutions, and then find details of upcoming Open Days.
Then they need to register to attend at a number of institutions, so that they
can compare their experiences of the campuses and their various offerings before
making a decision.
“The point of Open Days is to help prospective
students make informed choices. Furthering your education is a significant
investment of money and time, so the more you do your research before you
embark on your future path, the more likely you are to make a success of your
studies,” he says.
While much of the investigations into further
studies can be done online, attending Open Days give young people the
opportunity to speak to Student Advisors face-to-face, to view and experience
campus facilities, to get a taste of campus life, and to speak to current
Usually, Open Days include career and qualification
guidance, campus tours, overviews of sport and social activities, and residence
Kriel says those who are still uncertain about what
path they want to pursue, can gain some clarity by speaking to Student
“They will be able to help you match your passions
and strengths to those qualifications – some which you may not yet even have
heard of – that will put you on a path to a successful career in future.
“Very importantly, you also need to ask Student
Advisors about the role work-integrated learning plays in the institution’s
qualifications, because employers today need to see that a new appointment is
able to get the job done from day one, and won’t need months of training to align
their academic knowledge to the actual day-to-day demands of the job.”
Open Days also allow prospective students to get a
broad overview of careers and career opportunities, as well as the details of
the logistics that lie ahead should they decide to apply.
“Matrics should not leave the decision about what
to study and where until after their exams, or, even worse, until after they
receive their results next year,” says Kriel.
“Open Days provide a great, fun, and non-pressured
opportunity to explore your options, and clarify and commit to the road ahead.
Getting your plans for next year out of the way sooner rather than later will
go a long way toward relieving your anxiety about the future in coming months,
which will leave you with more of the mental and emotional energy you’ll need
to make a success of your exams.”