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MID NINETIES LESSONS

About 20 years back (Grade 4, in 1995), I am reminded of my primary school days as a little boy at Manjolo Primary School (Binga). There are many lessons which I drew ranging from motivation; working together as a community; determination to achieve objectives and the priceless contribution made by others into our lives.

It is funny to recall how i began the long journey. My mum tricked me by indicating that i will be registered for Grade 1 if i take a bath (it was in Jan 1992) [Expectancy Theory applied in action]. I willingly took a bath and quickly went to bed; woke up early in the morning only to be told i was under age. I took that as a joke as i had to trick her back by crying non-stop till i get registered. The strategy helped me as it saved me – the registrar couldn’t help out as i even failed their entry test (raising one’s hand over the head, touching the shoulder). I was motivated to go to school as it was like that’s where all the other kids are at – nothing like pre-school was there in my village.

I never knew that going to school comes with a price of being early and life long learning starting with vowels; alphabetic letters; and own name. I was not shy to cry all the way to school every morning. Well, my sisters took turns daily, slowly running to school. Late or early, it didn’t make any difference. When left to walk on my own to school, i would clock even at 10am in class.

We used to go to school with plates in plastic bags and come lunch, we knew that our lunch will be freely provided (pap and beans, sometimes nutritious porridge or mahewu). As young kids, we were not shy to carry our plates around and pushing each other in the queue even making a second round. Villagers voluntarily took turns to cook at the school (Singwemu; Sikalenge; Damba; Chibondo; Manjolo; Keelameenda etc). Well, the efforts of our parents were sacrificial though we seemed to take it for granted. Honestly, I was motivated going to school every day though the six hours before lunch seemed to be like a full day.

Prize Giving ceremonies and sports competitions were conducted by the school which made no sense to me – they only translated as a day not to go to school. Not only because I never got any prize but because no one pumped sense into my head about them. I preferred to assist with cultivating in the garden or fields than going to watch others. Up to now, I have not been moved by this, I would rather read a short story than watching a movies (I translate it as helping others make money at the expense of my time).

I can say we had free education. Paying fees of Z$0.50 per term – at one time we had a two dollar note with two of my sisters and got back a Z$0.50 change. Books and pens were given freely. I am not sure if some would not call that free education.

I was motivated when my teacher would scribble a “Good” in any of the exercises – I measured success by the frequency of them in any exercise book (Grade 4). My favourite exercise book had been one with most “Good” remark comments. The most hectic thing was writing “Corrections” for any exercise. This meant that whatever you got wrong, have to be perfect this time around. The teacher seemed to be putting special attention when it comes to “Corrections” – we as learners observed that we were expected to master what we got wrong in the first place (not just copying from a colleague without a good understanding).

I have no words to describe our learning style. One day, as I was coming from the rest room, under a tree was a class with a frustrated lady teacher hitting students shouting “WHAT IS A VERB?” – From that moment, I had to master the definition of a verb. I slowed my pace until I heard her saying – “A VERB IS A DOING WORD” . . . . and she gave some examples.

Sometimes, we had afternoon classes till around 3pm. One day, our teacher taught us on how we should be prepared for uncertainty in life (that’s my own conclusion). Our Mathematics topic was “Multiplication” – a learner was expected to recall the multiples of any numbers from 1 to 12 (luckily, our exercise books had those tables at the back). So it went like this: the teacher set a condition that EVERY learner should recall multiples of any number from 1 to 12, however, the teacher randomly picks one. That was a FAIR play but not easy for every learner. Well, I had no strategy for tackling the challenge. I unfortunately had to master everything. When the student gets ready, they raise a hand and then everyone listens to them. It was one of those days when we went home individually (instead of walking as a group) as everyone could n’t wait longer for the stuck colleagues.

After recalling this, I now understand how privileged we were, not necessarily comparing with others. But, above all, we face many challenges which leverage our forward movement though we take them for granted at times. It takes no cost to to appreciate such positive contributions.

I wonder what a current Grade 4 student at the same school would recall in 20 years time (2035). Surely, that would be a different story.

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Graduation-Birthday Celebration

I never thought I will do such a thing – postponement of a birthday celebration indefinitely!!! Yes, this was me (Lucky), this year. My birth date for this year (2014) was at a time when I had about seven if not eight formative assessments within a week – tests, individual & group assignments and a group presentation. Postponement from 7 May 2014 to 19 September 2014. This makes it one of those unique days.

Today, I celebrate my third graduation in conjunction with my birthday – a special one. It is a special one in many ways: graduating on a program which I always wanted (Business Administration) and the pressure exerted by the program to the extent that I had to postpone my birthday celebration indefinitely.

As I grew up, it was clear to me that I will not attain a degree let alone completing any educational certificate besides a Grade 7 which seemed to be a compulsory, I never knew of his plan. By his grace, I am celebrating for my degree – glory to him. Attaining a qualification is regarded as an investment – expensive but with no guarantee for ‘returns on investment’.

First graduation – National Certificate (2008); second – Diploma (2012); and third – Degree (today, 19 September 2014). Basing on this, I now extrapolate my next higher graduation to be before December 2017.

This becomes the day I am reminded of the challenges I went throughout in life and more specifically during my studies such as spending sleepless nights; studying on boring content at times; social life forgone; financial sacrifices.

Yes, it was worth it. Now I understand, it is possible, I am up for the next challenge – the next level.

Want to watch the online celebration, here is the link for the live event from 10 am: http://www.cput.ac.za/live

Failure – its true meaning

There are various consequences of failing at any level of education, be it failing a test, an assignment, or a semester mark etc. Research indicates that the consequences are underestimated by a multitude. Difficult it may be to express it in monetary terms, economists explains it as opportunity cost (this means that a learner who fails a test, semester for example forgo some of the benefits that would have been enjoyed by a pass). Psychologists link it to stress and an injured social life. Economically, retarded human resource gains are experienced.

On behalf of Supreme Educators, I (Lucky Sibanda) would like to extend our appreciation to our fans for liking this page.

Just to give an overview of those who might be wondering what page is this, here is a brief description:

“Supreme Educators is an initiative that was born after realising the need of supplementary tuition apart from what learners receive from high school, colleges and universities. It is based in Cape Town. Through tutoring, Supreme Educators strives to ensure that learners complete their qualifications within minimum time frame.

It is common some learners take long to complete their qualifications due to various factors. We understand and acknowledge that we are not equal as human beings hence the need for additional time, what matters is the understanding of concepts at the end.

Though it might seem difficult to understand this, GDP is negatively affected by delayed completion of a course by a student. Upon an institution, it brings more fees yet this is not a desirable situation in terms of dwindled throughput as well as negative connotations.

Fraiser and Killen (2003) present an article which puts some suggested assumptions when registering a student by an institution though it is originally meant to present student perception on success and failure factors. They insist that students should only be registered only if they show some degree of successfully completing the qualification within the prescribed duration. However, with an alarming competition for clients (students), we see some learners being enrolled at tertiary institutions without having recommended capacity. Anyway, let me leave this for an academic article. In essence, education should focus on the clients’ side not on the financial bottom line.

In fact, time is money, it can never be bought. Once lost, it can never be recovered. We should bear in mind that we live once hence there is no time to wait for a second chance. Living for a handful of years is not a problem especially when wisely spent, the problem is when those years are recklessly spend when one needs another chance to live.

Limiting Performance

It is so painful to learn that the outcome of a specific activity is bound to limit an individual in future and perhaps for the rest of one’s life. I was compelled to write this after a conversation which I had with a student who aimed to attain a mere passing mark for a degree qualification. My comment was: “. . . it is unfortunate that getting a mere passing mark such as an average of 50% affects one for the rest of one’s life such as progression and competition on the job market to some extent. . .”

For a significant percentage of learners, career planning seems not to be taken care of. Talking from experience, I had conversations with various learners for the past four years and I have noted that some are offered study courses which were not their first choices.

This is a dilemma in which affected individuals have limited choice on whether to accept the offer or reject. There are various reasons behind and I will limit this article to what I have learnt from the conversations:

With some learners, there is little or no relationship on their natural abilities and the courses they are studying.

Some learners make application into courses they wish to take a career yet their background academic performance would be against such an option. This is so in that tertiary institutions have some guidelines such as minimum requirements to enrol a particular learner into a course.

Interestingly, Fraiser and Killen (2003) emphasises that institutions should enrol students on the probability that the particular learners will successfully complete the course. However, this seems to be actual situation on the ground. This could have been influenced by the various FET Colleges (in the case of South Africa) or private institutions in other countries.

Private institutions seem to be competing for getting clients. It is painful in that at the end we witness learners who are enrolled for qualifications they are literally challenged. With such misconduct, I would casually insist that we should not be shocked by the low through put or success rate. This has many implications not only to learners, but to the education system and the economy as well.

On learner, stress would be the order of the learning process is the learner is not a fast learner. Educationally, the increased failure rate continues to make headlines in newspapers and economically, learners spend more money in repeating courses.

The money could have been invested in other economic activities. Students lose time through repeating courses and such precious time could be spent on earning income if the learner had completed within minimal time.

Key Issue

Despite the presence of a myriad of issues that influence the success of learners, an internal locus of control is vital for learners to challenge the status quo and make positive performance outcomes which will leverage their possible future initiatives. One has to accept that a positive outcomes starts from within, action is needed when there is still time.

Youth Achievement Differences – American versus African

Earlier this year, I had a facebook casual discussion with my friends and it was very crucial to engage especially to African youth as the topic was centered on a comparison on what could be the reasons behind the achievement disparities among youth “American vs. African”. Therefore, a friend posed a question on his wall. After realizing that I might not access the comments, I decided to make a blog post. Surprisingly, this person is currently on a break and I cannot access this info. This conversation has not been edited.

Why is it, in America a person at 22 would have achieved a lot, some will be already having their own houses? But in Africa in it seems life begins around 25 years going upwards.

Lucky: The background behind every individual counts a lot. Also in Africa, you could realise that there are some within that range – 22. However, the continental economic power can be suggested to be the root of such disparities. I am not sure when it comes to link on the past but I assume that that history of colonisation could be to some extent justify this – its my opinion based on a mere assumption”.

 Mfano Ncube: “I think it’s because, when our parents send us to school, they advise us to work hard, get good grades, get a good job then retire. And most of the money you will earn, (AFTER TAX) while working will go to supporting your parents and your siblings. While in America, they say to their children when they send them to school; “Go to school, while at school, nurture your passion or study what you are passionate about and then take the money we saved for you and use it to live your passion while it makes more money for you“.

 Lucky: “Very true Ncube, that creates a huge gap. It’s unfortunate that some of us try to follow a career that will secure us jobs yet some perceive learning centers as social places where we meet friends, enjoy as friends etc. The most painful part is to learn that a significant %age of learners study courses which does not match their natural abilities. This could be just being a result of a handful of factors such as poor background, poverty which would turn learners to go for anything that comes on way. It is not bad though when considering the misfortunes of life. However, this all delays self-actualisation and brings us back to the ages mentioned by Moe above. However, some could experience life in their 50s as a result.

I am still to explore more on this research area when I get enough time and resources. I came up with a rough draft model for Career Guidance. However, the concept is still raw as it has a number of assumptions that would have to be validated and confirmed with the existing literature.

Have a look on it: http://ckisto.wordpress.com/…/”.

Mfano Ncube: “Yeah! You are right. I think the rules of education have completely changed, but the education system has remained unchanged and our parents don’t know it that’s why they keep on giving us obsolete advice. We should change this with our children’s generation because old jars have long been proven unable to contain new strong, wine, (Bible over 2000 years ago) which has the power to break it the second one pours it in them. It’s also up to us, who were suppressed and made dumb by our traditional backgrounds to get out of our comfort zones and always try something new….. Will check your blog out bro. thanks for the link”.

Lucky:  Perfect – “getting out of our comfort zones and always trying something new” – there is more power in that. We often make efforts to avoid taking risky options. We prefer a comfortable zone – many prefer getting a job with a continued flow of income than trying something which could turn into gold despite the risk associated. This reminds me of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor’s most recent report which compares various entrepreneurial aspects worldwide. The document in page 19 compares countries’ economies into Factor-driven economy, Efficient-driven economy and Innovative driven economies. Comparing different countries, we see most African countries that participate being Factor driven economies while most European and USA being Innovative Driven economies. This point back to the disparities among the Africans and USA individuals

http://www.gemconsortium.org/docs/download/2645”.

Sipuka: “Simple because u were born poor u will die poor those who r rich will die rich”

Tichaona: “Most Americans are fortunate enough to be born in families where their parents already have businesses, so they grow in business, by the time they finish high school they already know business practices. As for us the unfortunate ones, lecturers have to teach us what a business is etc, and that process takes quite a long time for us to grasp concepts. I think if we African teach our children trading at a younger age, will do us good”.

Lucky: “That’s the way to go Tichaona, now that we know I am sure we shall teach our kids and our bros and sis* such a route”.

Bridget:  “interesting thread!!”

Moe: “Still on the same topic, Luckisto, Ncube if your child is passionate about sport or singing would you invest your resources to send the child to the music school or sport school respectively. As you guys highlighted on our background which significantly prolong our success, I still remember sport wasn’t one of the subjects /talents which our parents considered important into a child’s future. Babalwa, on being born poor, I partially agree because you don’t choose a family to be born from; however I strongly disagree on dying poor because you have a choice to change your future. Tichaona we can’t necessarily say they are born from families with businesses, thus an assumption, I guess they are some who are born from similar families as ours but they still make it in life earlier than we do. Bridget and Maka, interesting indeed. And guys don’t you think race plays a role, whites usually at 22 even in Africa they will be having something to treasure”.

Lucky: “When I grew up, playing soccer was viewed as time wasting – I can assume my community still believes in this same perspective. They believe spending an hour in the fields (farm) is worth better than spending an hour in a soccer session ground. I would like to admit on behalf of my culture that we are not aware of the true preferable investments. However, I always partially agree to why they subscribe to such values and to some extent I would like to assume that their justification is valid.

Careers such as soccer or music are not common yet the pattern of following a teacher, nurse, doctor careers etc are common hence going to school is viewed as a general alignment towards the later mentioned jobs. In my community, we have no one in the national team (soccer Zim) and only one family made its names to such a level in the entire history (Peter Ndlovu, Madinda Ndlovu, and the late Adam Ndlovu). We are even puzzled how they built such a strong recognition. However, it is believed that one brother excelled in soccer and influenced the whole family. My point here is, there are some careers which we see no value in them or the community has developed a well-known and observed assumption that taking such a career leads to NO-WAY, anyone who tries it puts oneself as a reference point or example.

Having a closer look on this justifies my community have no faith in some careers as mentioned above. It can be summarised as follows: If no-one has made a living out of it then who are you to be the first – common sense would just confirm that such an option is not welcome. Well, I am suggesting them an assumption which I do not believe in myself as well. If having a kid with a passion in such fields, I would consider the environment and building it from there. Actually, I would love my kids not to follow general education system – it’s too long (how can my kid spend a combined (primary, secondary, advanced and tertiary level), approx. 17 years learning to get a degree qualification which might not even lead to employment. Have we thought of recouping all the invested monies in education? In economic terms, this could lead to an assumption that some are investing into a sinking investment – with negative returns. In business simple lingo, some fail to break-even, meaning that they make a loss on an investment made in education. It’s painful to know this – think of the graduates who spent more than 20 years learning and now are in the circles of unemployment. Who would have taken such a route is all the implications were known before?

I refuse to invest is such a “share” – this is what I shall do: Identify talent in my kids, develop them on the survival and success skills and their talents, teach the enough life oriented mathematics and investments principles; teach them the practical aspect of investments; and constantly emphasise, to them, that there is no need for achieving a briefcase of qualifications. I am sure it won’t even take them 10 years to do what they enjoy most.

We should be reminded that our communities have a shape towards our career believe it or not. Here is my reason: compare someone staying in Harare CBD and another person from Binga (that’s my rural village). Let us assume both have passion in music or soccer, who is more likely to make it? It might be difficult for some to follow logic but it is obvious someone in the CBD has high chances because his/her talent would be easily notice by people (the environment is enabling, presence of studios, music from various artistes and you name the rest) someone in Binga might be talented but might not meet anyone to realise such a talent. There is a well known Ugandan Musician in the East Africa (Uganda) of the name DR. JOSE Chameleone, his career in the music industry is an inspiration to many. Circumstances around him proved to be a huge challenge yet he had to sacrifice up to his last cent in a nearby country (Kenya) where he got the chance to develop his passion. He never stopped there and kept on putting all he can do. Now, he is close to 15 years in the industry with various awards won and he is flourishing greatly. I was deeply inspired by his story and I had to include him as one of my favourite music despite the fact that I do not understand him mother tongue language which most of his songs are sung in. This could be loosely linked to our main topic that an enabling environment is very crucial to all. I jokingly say to my nephew: “If you won’t reach Peter Ndlovu’s standard in soccer, then concentrate on your studies”. I will be trying to pass the message that currently, we believe in well known careers in the community – I acknowledge that I am not doing the right thing but my justification is that our environment is not supportive to such talents.

Another example would be to compare business supportive environment among different places. Consider a comparison between two business minded individuals one based in Cape Town and the other one, in Bulawayo. Someone in Cape Town has high chances of thinking entrepreneurial compared to someone in Bulawayo simply because in Cape Town one might have a chance of attending a multitude of workshops and networking events with no cost yet someone in Bulawayo could barely attend a networking event in a month’s time (it’s another assumption, I am not sure on the Bulawayo business networking events but on the Cape Town, I tried and tested this – there are plenty of such events). This adds some points on the influence of an environment’s influence.

On the race, I am not sure but it is always common sense that there are some tribes which are naturally known for being rich yet some are known of being poor. An interesting pattern to reveal is the extent of cohesion among different tribes. Think of it. How is your tribe known of in terms of cohesiveness? Are you supportive to one another or not? If your friend needs to borrow money to establish a business, what would be your reaction? . . . Willing to help or taking the risk of losing the lent amount. Food for thought. There should be an interesting pattern there. Let me leave that for the Sociologists, I am sure they have a perfect explanation on that.

On the aspect of being born poor and dying poor, I fully disagree with that notion. Motivation speakers usually say: “It is not a problem to be born poor BUT a problem to die poor”. It’s a fact that we are naturally different from one another and we should not expect everyone to be of the same opinion – differences should be observed and acknowledged therefore.

One of the entrepreneurial characteristics very crucial is having an “internal locus of control”- this when simply put to a layman means such people believe they have the power to influence and shape their environment and of course destiny. To them being born poor translates to “not dying poor but dying rich instead”. This is very interesting – I always big-up adults who still completes their matric even after being married and those who take up the challenge for enrolling for a tertiary education in their 40s, 50s, or 60s – my rough Career Guidance model (mentioned earlier) acknowledges this and this signal an internal locus of control as an individual would be proving that the background will not determine the future. We should not sit down and relax saying that it is a fact I will die poor since I was born poor. Never, build on such a negative perspective. It’s always interesting to break the general norms, achieving something which is not believed to be possible in a family.

I might write a book, let me not exhaust the discussion and leave it for others to add their opinions”.

Graduate and Inspire others

Positivity

Is there any significance for one to attend a graduation ceremony for the qualification attained?

I had a tough time to decide on whether to attend my second graduation and after considering both sides of the coin through penning this article, I made a decision to graduate as there were more pros than cons. Unemployment is growing at a remarkable rate as the number of graduate are increasing at an inverse rate with the available vacancies. Competition on the job market is increasing day by day with more emphasis on one’s experience on the chosen field. This has prompted many economies to brew entrepreneurs to enhance the entrepreneurial activity by embedding an entrepreneurship module in various courses at high schools, colleges and universities. This brings a new dimension for students who can then shift their mindset to aim for creating jobs after or at times during their studies. I once [March 2013] read of an article of a U.K based 17 year old boy who sold his app to Yahoo for about $30 million. He is not the only student making money while studying as there are others who are doing it as well – this is great. The most interesting part of the story is on the calibers of people whom he employed – highly skilled ones. Really, with the highly connected world, students can help in generating jobs. Therefore, at some tertiary institutions, we see some students graduating not only for their qualification, but having a robust business to manage after studies and creating jobs for others as well.

I have so far graduated twice. My the first one being in 2008 when I graduated for a National Certificate in Machineshop Engineering at a college in Zimbabwe and the second one being for Diploma in Entrepreneurship. I am not an engineer as some might think but I have a good understanding of all those “dangerous workshop machines” – lathes, surface grinder, drilling machine, milling, CNC, CAD-machines, shaper, band-saw etc. It’s unfortunate that I had to drop out to start a fresh career in the business field. As an apprentice drop-out, I have never regretted my decision to quit. Let me not get much into it as it reminds me of my daily activities – my hands were always dirty with grease etc and the tool room music was noise from machines – not mere noise but that kind of noise that requires everyone to shout when communication even with a work mate who might be 5 meters away.

“Should one attend his graduation ceremony?” That was my question for the whole of 2012 as I was doing my final year for my recently graduated qualification. The reason being that I did various extra-curricular activities throughout the 2012 year which opened my eyes in the business area hence I thought I Diploma does not fully describe my skills and competences. I learnt about number of business models, met big business people and saw the world in a different view etc. My interests had a slight shift from schoolwork to business thereafter. That is when I got inspiration from the likes of the facebook founder who started their idea at his dormitory at university. At times, my mind was lured to follow the steps of university drop-out list [Bill Gates, Brandson etc] but after realising that my environment and theirs were totally different and that not everyone gets the chance to tertiary education especially in Africa, I wiped off the mentality. Anyway, I might not be compared to them but we are swimming in the same boat of entrepreneurship. I share hectic schedules with them though to some of them they now live peacefully.

I developed a mentality of disliking some modules. I was of the notion that the education system merely prepares learners to become workers hence at universities students are taught some “unnecessary subjects”. With that, I gave myself a fair reason to bunk most of the lectures which I assumed they not necessarily suite my chosen career. I will not encourage anyone though to develop a negative thought as it worsens the experience. Even for those who are working on job positions that they feel does not match their natural abilities, never develop a negative attitude. I came up with a concept which strives to help both individuals both students and employees specialise on their natural abilities for their career for self-actualisation. It became extremely hard when the time for writing exams came. It was worse when I had to prepare for exams for I have to admit that I had no option besides the use of the “X Type Student Method” of study – cramming. I remember for my June 2012 exam in one of the subjects, I dismally failed to motivate myself to prepare earlier. The exam was scheduled for 9am and I had to wake up at 6am giving myself 3hrs to fully prepare and other things. I never liked that behaviour as my memory is better enough when it comes to understanding concepts rather than memorising which worked against my tactic – luck enough; I managed to get a passing mark.

Behaviour is a sum and average of our daily routine activities hence this taught me to appreciate every little achievement I reach as they make the whole lot. A common say states that a thousand mile starts with a single step.

. . . .and my advice is: Love what you are doing, put all the effort, never relax when it comes to learning, it is a great investment. Know who you are, where you are going and map how you can get there. With a determined effort, everything is possible. After attending the graduation, I gained momentum as the speaker emphasised on the importance of education not just for an individual benefit, the society and the economy. Some has never graduated and it is still their wish to, therefore, inspire others by graduating and urging them to take up the challenge. After the April 2013 graduation, I raise my bar to attain at least three more graduations, degree, masters and PhD.

 

Scoring A 100% Exam Mark

Source of motivation

After taking a moment tracking my original source of motivation in ‘numbers’, i have realised that it all started ten years back, in 2003, end of January, when i was doing my Form 3, Ordinary level (10th grade) – i scored a 90% mark in a formative Mathematics class test. Despite  the test having a mark of out 20, it seems to be the source of all the inspiration i have when it comes to calculations. There is much i learnt from that test mark [while other learners were still recalling their Dec-Jan holiday moments, i put much effort towards the test hoping to build a future in education – i am a testimony as, surely, i am slowly building this and its coming up in good shape].

All the confidence i have when it comes to calculations was born in that particular test – i enrolled Advanced level mathematics in 2005 with boldness which was brought from the test and i made it as well. In my Ordinary level, i got an ‘A’ and a ‘C’ at an Advanced level (13th grade) – this was not common in my rural areas. The principle i relied on was ‘not to use statistics of the previous learners‘ performance to determine my outcome – i am unique. This turned to be the reality and i still base on this same principle. I do not feel a challenge to set a target in scoring a 100% mark in a test even in summative tests which at times weigh up to 40% towards the whole module mark. With a basic principle which guide me, i am always certain in attaining my set mini-targets.

I usually guide myself with principles. I always seek to identify the ‘principles observed’ in specific topics i cover. Since the beginning of the year, i have been frequently meeting with my group members mostly on Saturdays for revision and assignment purposes. I always emphasised observing the underlying principles all the time. For example, in writing assignments, i urged everyone to follow the format requested by every lecturer and where no structure was asked, i urged everyone to follow a ‘standard academic research thesis/dissertation or a journal article. When it comes to modules involving calculations, i urged everyone to observe the topic specific related principles. One of the basic principle i usually referred to is ‘BOMDAS’ or ‘BODMAS’ – very basic but it applies in many instances. I always said, there is no-way to get it wrong when it comes to calculations and has been a reality to me.

As part of a study i was doing towards writing journal articles that sought to ‘identify the academic performance factors at tertiary level‘, i once offered a free tutorial to Financial Management 2 Class in the ‘Entrepreneurship Diploma‘ course in preparation of their final year Exam weighting 40%. As i sent them an invitation email, i decided to title the ‘Tutorial Theme’ as “Attaining a 100% Exam Mark“. In this tutorial, i explained how students could make use of basic principles to attain a maximum performance i.e. scoring 100% mark. It is very easy to attain than in any calculation based subjects.

These were the main points:

1. Having a Exam strategy – a learner should know exactly how they are going to tackle the exam. This is assisted by knowing one’s progress mark. This helps to set the exam score target. One should also know the total marks of the question paper and the duration. This helps in allocating the appropriate time to be spent in every question. With this, a learner would be able to attempt all the questions.

2. Prepare one-self thoroughly – summative exams are not meant to surprise learners, but to test whether learners are ‘competent’ or ‘not-yet-competent’ (as per outcome-based assessments). Also, learners cover all the learning areas during their formative sessions. This could spell out that exams should not be surprises to learners in any how. I always urge my group members to comprehend the study guide as it has all what learners are expected to know. Therefore, once the learner makes use of such precious resources, one would be having an idea of how the questions would look like.

3. Arm one-self with relevant principles – i am sure every topic or module has specific principles that applies to it hence observing them would always direct learners in the right direction. Apply them appropriately.

4. Utilise maximum speed – on this one i always find it challenging to explain as some learners are naturally slow when it comes to writing. However, the principle of ‘practice makes an individual perfect’ serves to explain on my behalf that learners should be constantly practising to enhance their accuracy, understanding and speed at the same time. I always encourage learners to revise almost everything at their disposal especially on calculation-based modules with an aim of identifying various principles.

5. Never allow time to think during the Exam – i always remind fellow students that as part of an exam assessment, we are also tested on time management, taking few seconds to think is not recommendable from my side. I believe in the continuous flow of information throughout till the end of the exam and this is mostly possible when one has fully prepared for the exam – just like a sponge saturate with water.

Completing my second semester of my three semesters for my Btech. Degree in Business Administration at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, i would like to confess that despite the pressure brought by the course to fellow learners, every assessment to me seemed to be yet another ‘early Christmas present’. I was glad in the first place when i looked at the course modules as i knew anything involving calculations is a ‘morale booster’ to me. Out of the ten modules, half of them involve some sort of calculation. Besides the two to be done in the last semester (Managerial Economics 4 and Financial Management 4), this semester had the other three involving calculations: Production and Purchasing Management 4, Management Accounting Aspects 4 and Financial Accounting Aspects 4. It had been an interesting semester for me though to other learners it can be described as a ‘most trying and tormenting one’ as indicated by a significant number of dropouts not mentioning the alarming failure rate.

The experience has been great and the course has been very insightful. It helped me to explore some other avenues of opportunities such as considering venturing into the provision of Financial related decisions (personal and corporate investments) as well as considering focusing on a financial management related dissertation for my masters qualification in the near future.

Safe exit for Graduates


Graduate

Ask any graduating student to list the most pressing issues and you won’t be surprised the aspect of ‘life after graduation’ will be among the top. This is a case in most countries where unemployment is high when learners after graduation seem to be given a ticket of a ‘qualified and official unemployed’. In simpler term degree certificate now seems to be a certificate or proof of being unemployed as more often we learn of people who have such hardly earned documents not serving its purpose. . . or getting a job which does not call for one particular field of specialisation. Identifying ways that graduates can opt to buffer themselves upon this traumatizing wave of winds is paramount. In this article, I discuss my own experiences and insights on what graduates undergo once they are successfully released from tertiary institutions.

Year end indeed is the most stressful time for final year students as that’s when reality begins – with two options – perpetual stress or happiness. It is the most defining moment in life. This is most painful when one is aware of the trends on the job market [unemployment is in every country due to challenges in reaching a positive economic growth and job creation for the increasing economically active labour force].

I always remember the excitement that students have once they are accepted to study at tertiary institutions as it can be literally translated to a positive relationship towards a brighter future. However, the reality seems to be far from this. The saddest part is that some learners tend to be taken over by the waves of a student life that some do not plan for an exit strategy (after graduating). Instead of building meaningful relationships to secure a starting point after graduation, some would be enjoying like crazy (sad to note this). I am sure no one would like to be a point of reference on a bad connotation except for the celebrity.

Gone are the days when completing a degree was something one can be proud of – it resembled an achievement with a better life. This probably meant that one is about to realise the returns on investment (education). We are now in an era where education seems to be a risky investment, unprofitable to say the least to most of us. This is due to the fact that more often, one is guaranteed to plunge into unemployment after graduating with a degree unless with good support structures. This is worsened by the fact that some learners pursue degrees that do not relates to their natural abilities [e.g. a Marketer (naturally) doing Accounting just because one was told Accounting is the high paying job or due to some unfortunate circumstances when one could not secure a place in a desired course].

The trend seems to be shifting into unexpected folds. Graduating with flying colours nowadays seems to be of less value to a person who intends to secure a job after graduating with a degree for instance. Skills are essential and this calls for learners to be juggling with gaining practical experience while they are studying to stand a better chance in comparison to the knowledgeable inexperienced graduate. On the other hand, flying colours are ideal to learners who aim to pursue further qualification as this helps, at times, in getting assistance such as scholarship to further study or for meeting minimum performance requirements.

University now seems to be a hiding place or a hive to while time whilst make attempts to seek something in the highly competitive job market. This is typical in countries with high levels of unemployment coupled with minimal levels of entrepreneurial development. This would point out to learners who, at times, enrol for a master’s qualification even when an individual has no intention for pursuing masters. Getting enrolled for a qualification seem to be relieving than graduating.

At one time, I was contemplating to attend a graduation ceremony considering the time and money spent in preparation. I always thought I could use this for something more economical. This could be a detour to consider by fresh graduates. Some would even prefer not to attend the graduation ceremony due to an additional cost which would be more likely to be incurred as part of the preparations as indicated above. That little money could be saved towards simple issues such as CV printing (those still applying offline) and attending to interviews.

Parents expect graduates to be independent despite the escalating levels of unemployment in every country. When a learner graduates, a general expectation increases from the learner. Such a typical graduate will be faced with extreme pressure from all directions including starting a family.

However, this seems to be a different to someone who is doing a degree of choice, well prepared for the market not relying to the forces of unemployment. It’s unfortunate that very few falls in such a category such as the entrepreneurs. Despite the opinion that this turns to be untrue when some students feels as if they are caught unaware as if time is working against them, on the other hand, this is a bit different to some students who plans ahead of time and to entrepreneurial minded learners. It has to be acknowledged that not everyone in the world can be an employer as some have to be employed. However, naturally, there are some people who are meant to work for others unless they learn the competences and skills required. It is unfortunate that the education system supports the notion that more employees are needed yet it is now vice-versa, more employers are needed. It is painful to learn a number of graduates who sacrificed immeasurable efforts only to plunge into the pool of unemployment.

Doing part-time jobs and in-service training during the time of study is critical towards a safe exit from tertiary study.

ASSESSMENTS (EXAM TIPS)

That time of the year is by the corner when learners are bound to be assessed in the form of summative assessments. These are very crucial considering the weight they carry. Summative assessment can be loosely defined as a milestone in a learning process which seeks to ascertain whether the learner is “competent” or “not yet competent”. Learners are assessed on the subject content they have covered or are assumed to have been covered. It is not a screening tool to fail learners as some might think but a performance measurement tool although it indirectly screens learners as those who are found to be “not yet competent” are given an option to attempt a supplementary assessment provided they meet the minimum requirements for such an assessment. If they are “not yet competent” for the second attempt, they might be deferred meaning that they are expected to re-do the module [let us not consider this as an option as there are many consequences as a result of repeating]. However, this differs among various academic institutions that put in place the standards to be observed.

Summative assessment is conducted in various forms such as ‘end of year exams or national examinations’, ‘submission of portfolio of evidence’, and ‘project presentations’ among the common methods. They have to be carried out under specific minimum guidelines for credibility purposes hence learners should be aware of this as penalties which might be negative would be among the options for assessors, moderators and examiners. Therefore, familiarising with the rules and regulations put in place during such assessments is essential.

I have decided to share some few points on how learners can maximize their performance in summative assessments as presented below:

– Learners should know their progress mark and calculate what mark they need to score in the exam to get the desired mark such as a pass mark (50%) or a distinction (75%)

– Learners should also know all the topics which are part of the module guide and are to be asked in the exam (scope)

– Learners should identify their weak points and strong points in those topics identified

– Learners should find ways of improving their performance (by reading relevant material) where they need further understanding and seek assistance from classmates etc

– Learners should continuously review their performance before the exam to assess their preparedness for the exam/s

– Learners should identify any possible exam questions and fully understand them though revision

– Learners need to be aware of the marking style of every particular assessor/examiner (assessor and examiners specify how students should answer questions – this might not always be the case especially when national exams are prepared for however, making use of a standardized model answers would help at times)

– Learners should know the duration for every exam and spend appropriate time for every question in the exam

– Learners should maximise their speed and begin with questions which they understand better

– Learners should keep in mind that exams are only to determine whether they are competent or not competent. It is not a punishment in anyhow

– Learners should understand that assessments are a form of performance measurement tool.

Best wishes in your exams!!!!!

Self Motivation, it works

It is, at times, difficult to understand what others experience when they are in certain situations unless putting one in their shoes. Another angle to understand this is through experience – I may be tempted to say that experience is the best teacher.

When I did my Ordinary and Advanced levels of education (2003-2006), it was really difficult for me to believe fellow students who insisted that Mathematics is a difficult subject. It is only after seven solid years when I partially came into terms with their notion. However, I render it as a perception as there are some individuals who perceive that Mathematics is a normal subject like any other. There are, also, others who are on the other extreme who even went deeper to create formulas which new learners have to comprehend such as on the different relationships that are argued to exist (fathers of mathematics).

I personally take a slightly different approach in that I believe the understanding of the subject of Mathematics is a combination of a set of factors. Individuals might be coming from families which have a huge influence on taking the subject with utmost importance. Other factors may range from having adequate resources, influence from colleagues, spending enough time for the subject, motivation for passing the subject, and time allocated of course. Some other factors include responsibilities which determine how one has to dwell much on the subject . . . and you name the rest . . . . .

Management and Cost Accounting is one of the subjects which initiated my understanding on the above discussed perception earlier this year (2013). I had much to think about, read, learn, write and do – I never had enough time. Concepts were just piling up – at the end, I could not even know what to start with. A time in a lecture came when I was only seeing numbers being multiplied, added, subtracted and divided. On the other class, I heard another learner jokingly saying that a ‘tutor would do’. That is when I comforted myself that I am not alone in this situation. This is another way which puts off some individuals from knowing whom they are and seeking the way forward. One might be reluctant to seek for a possible solution after knowing that the situation is faced by a multitude. It quickly reminded me of the 2003-2006 colleagues’ perceptions and I got tempted to convince myself that calculations are indeed challenging.

In my mind, an option of the services of a tutor was among the options as I was trying to get along with others. I was not satisfied though as my mind begged to differ with the option o the other hand. I consider myself as an educator hence next to ‘tutor’ option was to assess myself. I gave myself some conditions to work within and to consider a tutor only when I fail to redeem myself to the level I once attained during my ‘hey-days’. Surely, my mind read right, I told myself that I was not that bad when it comes to calculations as I enjoy them instead.

With different sources of motivations, I reminded myself that “but I was once good in calculations”. Having a big picture of my tomorrow keeps me going. Also, when I always think of the great mind which our creator imparted in me gives me every reason to believe that I can even walk on water. All this gave me courage to locate the root of the challenge faced as mentioned above. I realised that ‘if I was good, then what made me to be like that’ and ‘if I seem not to be good now, what would be the forces behind’. With this is mind, I managed to reconcile the differences. As a result, I was able to reach my desired state.

Out of what I learnt amounts to the following:

– One needs to have a positive attitude in everything

– Learn to master every bit of concepts as they come

– Seek to understand concepts before moving to the next

– Know your weaknesses and strengths to seek for a solution

– Prioritise important, urgent and worth tasks first

– Create enough time for important issues

– Understand the uniqueness in oneself