Mar 20
ADvTECH's Africa expansion boosts student numbers

Private education group ADvTECH has managed to grow its numbers amid the tough economic environment in SA but, as challenges continue at home, is expanding into other African markets that present more attractive growth opportunities.  

This expansion, together with the performance from its tertiary division, helped the group to deliver an 11% increase in revenue to R4.4 billion for the year to end-December 2018, while operating profit was up 14% to R725 million. 

ADvTECH says in its results statement released on Monday that the “tough economic climate and socio-political environment” in SA continue to weigh on growth. The company is, however, making significant expansion through acquisitions in other African markets like Kenya to counter the impact.

The group’s overall enrolment numbers rose 11% to 70 456 in the latest reporting period, and this was mainly attributed to acquisitions made in African markets outside of SA. It says that at home, increased levels of withdrawals owing to emigration is a trend that has continued into 2019.  

In the school’s division, ADvTECH opened the Crawford International School in Nairobi, Kenya, which it says has received interest and contributed 189 enrolments during the period. The acquisition of Makini, also in Kenya, added seven schools, three campuses and boarding facilities in Nairobi and Kisumu to the portfolio, boosting student numbers by 3 197. 

ADvTECH's school’s division increased revenue by 15% to R2.9 million, representing 46% of group revenue. It increased operating profit by 5% to R330 million but says that operating profit from schools in the rest of Africa declined due to the costs incurred ahead of the opening of the international school.

While the group touts the Kenya expansion as a success, it admits the investment has had a negative impact on margins. The group saw higher average net borrowings during the period, resulting from significant capital expenditure incurred in part by the acquisition of Makini, which led to an increase in financing costs.

In commenting on the expansion, ADvTECH CEO Roy Douglas says the schools division has almost doubled in the last few years. “We moved into a phase of consolidation, rationalisation and focusing on integration of acquisitions.” He says the group is confident that the initiatives will pay dividends in the longer term.

Meanwhile, ADvTECH's tertiary portfolio, which includes Varsity College, Rosebank College and Vega, grew revenue by 10% to R1.7 billion despite pressures at home. This makes for a 39% contribution to overall group revenue. The division’s operating profit rose 23% to R395 million off the back of operational leverage from volume growth that saw the operating margin improve from 21% to 23%. 

Three new campuses opened during 2018, including two digitally enabled; Rosebank College Connected sites in Pietermaritzburg and Bloemfontein. The Rosebank College portfolio now consists of mega campuses in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban with a mega campus in the pipeline for Cape Town in 2020.

ADvTECH says the acquisition of Monash South Africa for R343 million, which was concluded during 2018 and is subject to regulatory approval, will be implemented come year-end considering all conditions are fulfilled. Should the offer go through successfully, it will take AdvTech’s higher education student complement to more than 40 000 students.

Read: ADvTECH builds scale in the tertiary sector

The group’s resourcing division, another contributing factor to the overall performance, increased operating profit by 22% to R39 million. AdvTech says the division’s results can be attributed in part to the diversification strategy.

While the company expects challenges to continue in the SA market due to the depressed economic environment, Douglas says he is confident about the outlook for the business going forward. “The demand for quality education continues and the business is in a strong position to meet this demand as we continually identify opportunities both in South Africa and on the rest of the continent.”

The company announced a final gross dividend of 15 cents per share. This brings the full year dividend to 30.0 cents per share. AdvTech’s share price was down 0.88% to R12.23 at 3:55pm on Monday


Mar 20
Auditory Perceptual Learning

​Written by: Meryl Chinman, the Learning Support Teacher at Crawford Pre-Primary and Preparatory Lonehill

Perception is one’s ability to see, hear or become aware of something through the senses.  It is the way we regard, understand and interpret information.

 Auditory relates to the sense of hearing, but auditory processing/perception involves hearing, discriminating, assigning significance to and interpreting spoken words phrases, clauses, sentences and discourse.

Deficits in auditory processing underlie reading, writing and spelling difficulties and will affect all language-based learning and general classroom performance e.g. following instructions or interpreting spoken language meaningfully and retaining information presented auditorily.

Difficulty interpreting questions as they increase in length and complexity or inappropriate or incorrect answers suggest auditory processing problems.

Poor auditory vigilance, which is essentially the ability for a listener to remain attentive to auditory stimulation over a period, also suggests weaknesses. Written language difficulties include poor grapheme-phoneme (letter-sound) correspondences, omissions of words or poor sentence construction, as the child has forgotten to write the intended message.

Auditory processing involves memory skills. This is the ability to take information presented orally, to process the information, store it in one’s mind and then recall what one has heard. It involves the skills of attending, focusing, listening, processing, storing and recalling information and is vital for academic success.

Working memory requires the simultaneous storage and processing of information and has been identified as the translator between sensory input and long-term memory. Children with poor working memory typically make poorer academic progress.

Auditory discrimination is the ability to recognize differences in phonemes (the smallest unit of sounds in a language), including the ability to identify words and sounds that are similar and those that are different.

Poor discrimination may result in spelling errors, misinterpretation of spoken information, poor rhyming skills and a need for constant clarification.

Auditory figure-ground assesses the child’s ability to understand speech in the presence of noise. This is vital as a child must be able to tune into a teacher’s voice in a busy classroom and ignore extraneous noise.

Auditory closure is the ability to use intrinsic and extrinsic redundancy to fill in missing or distorted portions of the auditory signal and recognize the whole message. This involves taking small pieces of auditory information and constructing a whole.

Auditory comprehension explores the child’s ability to reason, comprehend and conceptualize verbal information. Children with poor verbal memory often recall irrelevant details and miss significant information that is present.

Auditory reasoning skills reflect higher–order linguistic processing and are related to understanding jokes, riddles, inferences, logical conclusions and abstractions.

The most common cause of difficulties acquiring early word reading skills are weakness in the ability to process the phonological features of language which results in auditory analysis(segmentation) and synthesis(blending) difficulties. Weaknesses in the phonological area of language development are commonly measured by non-reading tasks assessing phonemic awareness. The ability to identify, think about and manipulate the individual sounds in words enables the identification of children at risk for reading failure even before reading begins, since phonemic awareness has been shown to be directly related to the growth of early reading skills.

If a child is unable to perceive contrasts in phonemes and cannot conceptualize the identity of phonemes in syllables and words, they depend on rote memory when learning to read and spell. This restricts progress in reading and spelling and does not permit the precise comparison between spoken and written units of words.

To avoid a breakdown in auditory processing the following strategies can be used by parents and teachers:

  • Children should be seated away from distractions.
  • The light should be on the speaker’s face.
  • Manners- one person talks at a time and other’s listen.
  • The room is quiet before giving an instruction.
  • Speak clearly, standing in one place, facing the child.
  • Explain new vocabulary and encourage questions for clarification.
  • Give concrete examples.
  • Break instructions down into parts.

The child can be encouraged to use the following strategies:

  • Keep eye contact with the speaker.
  • Use good listening behaviour. Quiet body and closed mouth.
  • Ask for clarification if confused.
  • Re-auditorize – repeat the information quietly to yourself after direction or information was presented orally.

Hearing is a passive involuntary process… but listening is an active, conscious mental process. So, remember, there is so much you can learn when you just listen!


Mar 20
How to talk with your teenager

​By André Loots (Principal) & Jacqui Browne (English teacher at Crawford College North Coast)

Parenting is a walk in the park.  Jurassic Park.  The journey to teenagerhood is dotted with a multitude of trials.  Remember the tantrums of your precious two-year-olds?  Probably not.  The mind has a clever way of making us forget the hardships of the really trying times in our lives.  It must be some evolutionary development to ensure the continuation of our species.  But now you find yourself in the midst of a hurricane of hormonal angst and monosyllabic responses from a teen who vacillates between the sheer inability to care about anything and the deeply emotional and eternally scarring trauma of no-one caring about them. 

The truth is, teenagerhood is really difficult.  On everyone.  Especially parents.  We struggle to reconcile memories of our delightful little toddlers with these temperamental and uncommunicative tyrants and, for many, the light at the end of the tunnel seems to have been blown out by their teen’s endless sighing.  The truth is, this period is transient.  And, though difficult to believe, it is a sign of a maturing individual, preparing themselves to be the successful adults that we hope they will become.  In fact, this stage of infinite frustration is one that should be celebrated, as much as we celebrated their first steps or first badly-formed words.  If only they would put to use those verbal skills we revelled in their first few years.

Communicating with teenagers is tricky.  Friendship groups and their significant others (for now) take your place in their hierarchy of importance.  Where you were once the person who bought the single most joy to their lives (remember fetching them from pre-school?), you’re now not much more than irritation or a glorified cook and taxi-driver.  Developmentally, they find baring their emotions and thoughts in spoken word incredibly difficult.  Technological development has been kind to this generation.  They’re now able to communicate, especially with those that matter, in a complex arrangement of emojis and acronyms.  

But just because they appear to be retreating from their parents and avoiding (at all costs) any kind of meaningful interaction, it does not mean that communication is not what they need.  Quite the opposite.  Our challenge, as parents of teenagers, is to find ways in which to communicate without breeding hostility and judgement.  Teens need their parents’ support and guidance as much as they did when they were toddlers.  It’s just that the communication needs to take a different form.

The first consideration parents need to make is when they attempt to reach out to their teens.  A bombardment of questions as soon as anyone walks into the house after a long day is bound to inspire mild irritation.  A good place to talk is around the dinner table, or in the car while driving them to and from their many arrangements. (This is particularly helpful for the teen as eye contact is limited).

As far as communication goes, it really is a case of ‘the more, the merrier’.  Before we can tackle the really trying topics like appropriate sexual behaviour and the use of illegal substances, we need to have created a habit of communication.  The more you talk to your teen about the mundane, the easier it will be to communicate in general, and then the really difficult conversations become a lot easier too.  Consider creating time to spend together on equal ground.  A Saturday afternoon on the beach, for example, or a trip to the local beauty salon for a pedicure offers the opportunity for parents to really connect with their teens – even if it is only about their most recent favourite celeb’s spectacular fall from grace.

Teenagers, like adults, need to feel valued too.  They are under immense pressure at school to perform, and while we all do realise the importance of their academic performance, we need to sometimes remind ourselves to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.  Yes, of course, school work is important.  But more important to your teen right now is the feeling that you genuinely care about them.  A teen who feels secure in the undeniable reliability of their parents’ support is one who more likely to communicate when they need your help the most.

And while teenagers are indisputably trying, our relationship with our teens consists of two individuals.  One of those individual’s body’s is a cocktail mixed with unchecked hormones, insecurity and plethora of pressures.  The other is a mature adult.  Sometimes we need to, as difficult as it is, turn the microscope on ourselves and ask, “Am I the parent that I wish I’d had or am I the parent that my child needs?”

And if all else fails, you could always send them a SnapChat with a string of acronyms and emojis, and hope for the best.


Mar 20
INVOLVEMENT: YOUR ROLE IN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS’ SUCCESS

​Ross Barrett, Principal of Pecanwood College High School

By definition, Success is given as “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose” and yet some “successful” CEOs in business describe success as…

“To find and fully live your purpose in life, and to leave an enduring legacy of having made a difference in the world.” – Ron Cordes, founder of the Cordes Foundation; or

“My definition of success is knowing that what you are doing is helping you and others lead a better, happier, healthier life.” – Kara Goldin, CEO of Hint Water

The teenage years will always be a challenge to navigate as a parent: finding the balance between wrestling and releasing; holding tight (to your dearly beloved offspring), never letting go and letting go and holding on for dear life (as they face the challenges of life). Your role, though different from their formative years, is crucial.

The most significant change in your involvement is the conscious and deliberate decision to not get involved. High school years are the transition from dependence to independence. Dependence, where from their basic needs of what they ate, when they slept and how they worked or studied was planned, provided and implemented by you. They may have been aware of the hours of conversation and deliberation you went through before you decided that Johnny was going to play the trombone at 8 years of age, but for the most part they were oblivious to your research, phone calls, troubled sleep and close to trolling the best trombone teacher in the country!

It is difficult to close the sluice gates, deliberately stepping-back and redirecting your energy because all you simply want “is the best” for him/her. But, Mom and Dad – you must! This is a gradual process, one in which you must pace yourself – plan your Letting-Go Plan. There are two important areas that you begin to address as you let go: firstly, you grow and develop a strong relationship of trust; secondly, you reinforce and build powerful self-confidence markers in your adolescent child’s life – your actions powerfully say “I love you; I care for you; You can do this!”

Trust

Trust anchors in character. I know I can trust you, because your character is one of integrity. I know I can trust you, because you are a man or woman of your word. I know I can trust you, because you know your own strengths, talents, weaknesses and shortcomings. I know I can trust you, because you have demonstrated to me that you make wise, considered and consistent decisions.

As a parent, you need to “create” and allow moments where you allow trust to grow. Start with small insignificant moments and decisions, but as confidence and success occur, gradually increase the stakes. Growth in trust often takes the form of stewardship – looking after the things (personal belongings or pets) which are under their care and responsibility. If they show good stewardship in small things, extend and grow the area and value of their stewardship.

This is a tremendously rewarding experience as you begin to see how the years of “sowing” into your son or daughter’s life begins to bear fruit. It is a liberating experience as you see your next generation begin to “wear” the mantle of adulthood and responsibility. 

Self-confidence

Self-confidence is the source of courage; it is the inner-resolve and belief that you will be unshakeable, despite circumstances and challenges. As we look to the world and environment around us, more than ever, we know we need to raise generations who will show courage and resilience.

I am not encouraging a complete abandonment of your teenager, to be left to their own devices – to toughen them up to build some “backbone”. Your Letting-Go Plan must gradually increase the times that allow for tough moments, challenging decisions; the space and time for the consequences of their decisions to play out. You want them to succeed; you want them to experience success – you want to reinforce their confidence. But, let them go as you will be “holding the bandages” as Alan Paton once wrote.

Failure should never be linked to their character and who they are. They are dearly loved – period. They are not loved because… – no strings and conditions attached. As a parent, this is very challenging, as the slightest hint of disappointment in your voice or on your face, is often interpreted as “I don’t love you because…” or “I am disappointed in you because…”

In closing. Parents your involvement during your son or daughter’s high school years needs to be a strategic plan of withdrawal. This does not include your care, concern and most importantly not your love. They are at their most vulnerable time of their inner growth, but they are also navigating a period of their lives which could sling-shot them on a remarkable trajectory which you and I will benefit from in our golden years as they implement wise decisions and mentor the next generation fiercely. Maybe then will we be able to comment on how successful.


Mar 20
The 3-month upskilling programme that charts a new course for (almost) any career

Although it is the norm today for people to change direction a few times during their career, many are terrified of starting from scratch in a new field. For those people, there is a little-known option for further study - becoming a moderator or assessor - which will allow them to continue moving up the ladder, while also moving in an entirely new direction in their chosen field.
“There is a huge need for technically proficient and qualified professionals in a range of fields to supervise and train others in line with required standards. A moderator or assessor course is a quick and effective way to earn the credentials to move into this new line of work,” says Danette Heyns, Vice-Principal of Oxbridge Academy, which serves more than 20 000 South African distance learning students every year.

Assessors and moderators are required in almost all careers, but there is a particularly high and rising demand for these professionals in the education sector, says Heyns. She says it is also helpful to explain what they do, using education as an example.

“In the context of education, for instance, an assessor determines whether a learner or student is competent in relation to the criteria or outcomes for a particular unit standard or qualification on the National Qualifications Framework (NQF). An assessor will be responsible for explaining the assessment process, as well as the required outcomes to the learner, assessing the learner’s competence, giving constructive feedback on the assessment to the learner, and recording the outcomes of the assessment,” she says.

But assessors and moderators are in demand in most fields and professionals such as auditors, estate agents and those in the banking sector often obtain these qualifications. Assessors and moderators are generally hired by skills development providers to assess unit standards and qualifications that are registered on the NQF. 

“Skills development providers can include organisations that provide training to their employees in the workplace. Assessors and moderators can either work as employees of skills development providers, or they can work as independent contractors. If you already have a relevant diploma, degree, or occupational qualification, and you want to become a qualified assessor or moderator, you are literally able to qualify to do so within 3 months of study,” says Heyns. 

She explains that moderators are those professionals who provide oversight over the work of assessors, and who are responsible for quality assurance in relation to the assessment process. This means that a moderator will make sure that learners are assessed in a consistent and well-designed manner and that assessments are carried out fairly. Moderators also handle appeals by dissatisfied learners and evaluate the performance of assessors while providing assistance where necessary.

“Becoming an assessor or moderator in your chosen field is a brilliant way to make yourself more employable and promotable,” says Heyns, “because you can build on your existing qualification without having to take years off for further study, or starting from the bottom in a new field.” 

“In addition to improving your career prospects, being a qualified assessor or moderator also enables you to earn a parallel income because you can continue in your existing position while doing freelance work in your spare time. So, if you need a quick solution where you can leverage and build on your existing expertise, it is well worth a look at the current and potential future demand for assessors and moderators in your career.”


Mar 20
ADvTECH shifts sights to consolidation

​IOL Business Report

DURBAN – Private education group ADvTECH has shifted its sights on consolidating its school's division into the rest of its portfolio with an eye on growing its future earnings in the year ahead after going on an acquisitions spree in the past four years.
In South Africa, the school's division reported only 5 percent growth in its operating profit to R330million for the year to end December.

But the operating profit from schools in the rest of Africa has declined due to the costs incurred ahead of the opening of Crawford International School in Nairobi, Kenya.

The company said that the challenging South African economic climate and the unsettled socio-political environment has continued to impact organic growth, with increased levels of withdrawals owing to emigration and financial pressures, a trend that had continued into 2019.

More parents were now also selecting the monthly payment terms as opposed to the upfront payment option as well as some parents delaying payment until after year-end.

The group increased its school's portfolio by opening seven new schools during the period.

ADvTECH said the growth in student enrolments for the year was "largely off the back of its expansion strategy to enter faster-growing economies outside of South Africa”.

Chief executive Roy Douglas said that the past year had been a time of integration and consolidation following a four-year period of acquisitions in which they acquired 49 schools, to take the overall total of schools to 103 in its portfolio.

“This significant growth has doubled the division's size.

"We have used the opportunity to rationalise and restructure the divisional systems and processes that are better suited to the increased scale of the business and which included the reorganisation of the schools division’s management structure and support functions,” Douglas said.

Douglas emphasised: “We are now focusing on the schools division and we are confident that the re- organisation and consolidation measures will ensure a sustainable performance improvement.”ADvTECH now operates 132 education sites comprising 103 schools and 29 tertiary campuses.

The two other divisions, the tertiary and resourcing divisions, both reported double-digit growth in operating profit, which helped the group to report an overall operating growth of 14percent to R725m, while revenue increased by 11percent to R4.4 billion during the year.

The tertiary division reported a 23percent growth in operating profit to R395m and the resourcing division was up by 22percent in operating profit to R39m.

The group’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation increased by 14percent to R942.1m and profit was up by 8percent to R397.4m.

Headline earnings per share increased by 7percent to 73.6cents a share.

The board declared a final gross dividend of 15c a share, down from last year’s 19c.

The group said that after making capital commitments of R1.9bn during the year it was a responsible decision to “preserve cash and have, therefore, reduced the dividend pay-out during this high capital investment period”.


Mar 18
ADvTECH: Positive momentum continues
Mar 18
ADvTECH delivers strong performance despite challenging economic environment
Mar 18
ADvTECH Results for the year ended 31 December 2018
Mar 13
Grade 11s: What you should do now to ace matric next year

​“The temptation will be there to put off thinking about Grade 12 until next year, but Grade 11s have the most powerful weapon in their arsenal right now – that of time,” says Natasha Madhav, Senior Head of Programme: Faculty of ICT at The Independent Institute of Education, South Africa’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider.“As a Grade 11 learner, you need to understand how competitive the landscape will be after school, and that it is not in your best interest to wait until exam prep starts next year to start exercising your academic muscles. 

You have to train, prepare and lay the groundwork now, so that you can build on your performance next year, rather than try and get the basics in place while the clock is ticking,” she says.Madhav says learners must also approach each assessment this year as if it is going to be the deciding one, and learn from and correct their approach when problems are identified.“Doing well now could also pay off pre-emptively, as many higher education institutions will allow provisional placement based on your Grade 11 marks, which will dramatically lift the pressure next year,” she says.

DRAFT A 2-YEAR PLANNING OVERVIEW
Senior learners should look at their last two years of school holistically, rather than as two distinct years, Madhav says.“Take some time to draft a two-year global overview of key dates that will arise this year and next,” she advises, adding that this calendar will include actual or estimated dates for all assignments, tests and exams.“You may think you have a lot of time ahead of you, but when drafting this calendar, you’ll quickly see the reality of how demanding and time-intensive these next two years will be. The good news accompanying the realisation of the challenge ahead is that you can now accurately determine how much time you’ll have to prepare for each assessment, and not be tempted to procrastinate.”

USE ANY “DOWNTIME” WISELY TO MAKE LIFE EASIER DOWN THE LINE
While there won’t be much free time going around in the run-up to Matric, Grade 11s should use any time they do have on their hands wisely.“So we are not saying you should be sitting in front of your books 24/7,” says Madhav. “But when you do have time to spare, say during the holidays or weekends, do a little bit every day to strengthen your actual ability to handle the workload which will progressively increase not only this year and next but also when you enter higher education.”Madhav says learners can use the time they have to watch YouTube videos of cool study hacks, different ways of learning and revising, learning to touch type or even doing some volunteer or internship work.“These are all fun activities which, when compounded, can make a notable difference to your academic performance as well as the strength of your study or work applications in relation to those of your peers.“Now is a great time to make a commitment to lifelong learning, and vowing to yourself to do something every day that makes you stronger, wiser and more resilient. These are skills that you need to craft and hone on an ongoing basis, as you can’t summon them out of the blue when needed.”

UNDERSTAND YOUR SUBJECT CHOICES & THEIR IMPACT ON POST-SCHOOL OPTIONS
Madhav advises Grade 11s to take some time to look closely at what they intend to do after school, and particularly to investigate their options broadly and thoroughly, and then ensure that the subjects will allow them to pursue their chosen path.“There are a number of reasons why you should consider where you are now compared to where you were when you first decided on your current subjects, as well as where you are going to go in future,” says Madhav.“Maybe when you made your choice you did so based on the idea that you might go into communication or design. Perhaps now you are more inclined to pursue a career in accounting or law. Whatever it is, ensure that your subject choices are still aligned to your current vision for your future, and the entry requirements at your higher education institution of choice.”

She says where students see they are going to fall short of entry requirements based on their subject selection, they could consider taking an additional subject, or should circumstances allow, change subjects – although this should not be done without serious consideration of consequences and discussion with the school.But apart from ensuring you are on the right path, the exercise of considering how your subjects support further study has the added benefit of reminding you of how your subjects will enable you to realise your dreams after school.“This is likely to provide you with fresh motivation to tackle even those ones you’ve been finding dreary or challenging,” says Madhav, “and help you not only understand your work but also get to grips with it in such a way that you can apply what you’ve learned.”Madhav says that next year when learners enter their final year of school, it will no longer only be about the amount of time they spend in front of their books, but also about the quality of that time.“You are in a position right now to influence the quality of that time, and effectively the trajectory of your post-school education and career. So use this time wisely to get in the right frame of mind so that you will be able to perform to the very best of your ability next year and beyond.”

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