By Eloise Nolte, MD of Optimi College

Later this month, South Africa will celebrate 28 years of democracy as we recognise Freedom Day on 27 April.

Over the last few decades, our country has come a long way. Literacy rates have increased from 82.4% to 95%, according to data from UNESCO. In 1994, 58% of public-school learners in Grade 12 passed matric, while in 2021 that figure was 76.4%.

At the same time, we have huge challenges, including an unemployment rate that has accelerated to 35% amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

To address this, we need to do everything we can to upskill our citizens, using every means possible.

Eloise Nolte, Managing Director of Optimi College

Eloise Nolte: Managing Director of Optimi College

Fortunately, education and technology have come a long way in the last 28 years — and distance learning provides a meaningful way to help South Africans, of any age, get ahead with accredited qualifications and short courses. Here are 5 reasons why:

Learning from anywhere, at anytime
Education providers, such as us at Optimi College, work on a distance learning model where you can study anything from accounting to IT, software development, supply chain management and much more without ever needing to attend face-to-face classes.

Study material can be delivered straight to your door, and you can start studying immediately, at any point in the year.

With petrol prices increasing, this saves you money and travel time. If you have a full-time job, you don’t have to plan your after-work time around classes or rushing to attend classes in the evenings.

Less restrictive entry requirements
Distance learning institutions typically have courses that suit many different people with different educational backgrounds.

There are courses that range from provider to accredited programmes, which offer entry level courses that only require a Grade 10 or 11.

If you’re older than 21 and you’d like to complete your matric, you can do this by studying towards Adult Matric, or the Amended Senior Certificate (ASC). This qualification can help with getting into tertiary education as well, as long as you meet the requisite requirements.

More manageable
Many distance learning institutions allow you to study only a few subjects at a time. Apart from the financial benefit, colleges do this so that students don’t feel overwhelmed by the workload.

Even if you have enrolled for a few subjects, the likes of College SA sends your course material in batches. This is done so that you can complete a module and its assignments before moving on to the next module. This further allows you the opportunity to focus on one thing at a time – making it easier to fully understand your course material and attend to your other responsibilities.

Online study groups and forums
Many distance learning institutions will also have online study groups and discussion forums, where you can interact with fellow students and tutors, discuss course material, and ask for help.

Affordable payment options
By eliminating the extra costs that go along with studying, you only have to pay the tuition fees with a distance learning provider. You can pay your studies off in easy to manage monthly instalments, or study and pay for one subject at a time.

Optimi College, for example, includes your study material in your tuition which means you don’t have to spend money on buying textbooks. In addition, in today’s world there are also many study financing providers, such as Student Hero, who can help learners with funding their studies.

When taking all these benefits into consideration, it’s clear that, more than ever, South Africans have the freedom to structure their own study time, schedule and pace of learning.

And with Freedom Day coming up, we have an opportunity to reflect on this and make sure that we seek ways to take greater advantage of all the education tools at our disposal.

Submitted by Fox Street Communications