I really want to go back to school

As a teenager all I ever wanted at school was a locker. There were two reasons for this, firstly so I could have awkward encounters with the pretty girl serendipitously placed next to me and secondly so that I didn’t have to carry all those heavy books around!

Thankfully Core (the distributors of Apple in South Africa) have both solved my historical problems and ruined my serendipity fantasy. Last week the company released ZABooks, a project to get every single South African textbook onto the iPad to get kids learning using digital textbooks.

The concept is simple: you download the ZABooks app onto your iPad (I can see the iPad Mini becoming the de facto choice for schools soon) and then go to the ZABooks website to buy the books you require. You then login to the app on your iPad and you can start downloading books. You can get books from Grade 1 to Grade 12 and at launch there are over 600 textbooks already available. All the major publishers are on board and books are generally at least 25% cheaper than the print editions. I took a random book on the store (Advocates For Change by Moeletsi Mbeki) and while ZABooks charges R180 for it you can get the print edition for R202 on Kalahari.net. That is without shipping (anything over R250 gets free shipping) and Kalahari is generally cheaper than brick and mortar stores so pricing does seem spot on. From a pricing perspective it’s probably going to take a while to amortise the cost of the iPad but in my house we have an upgrade cycle where an “old” iPad is passed down to the younger members of the family meaning that child already had access to an iPad.

As a bonus you can annotate your textbooks by “writing” on them as well highlighting sections and placing bookmarks. You can also download the books chapter by chapter and books also come in six different languages.

Let’s talk about downsides here for a second:

  • It’s damn expensive when your kid accidentally drops or misplaces their iPad
  • This is only realistically going to affect the lives of wealthy kids in private schools

To address issue number one I think parents have the amazing opportunity to give kids the chance to look after a device and instill a sense of values that you can’t just go ignoring a minimum four thousand rand device. That said, it’s going to be an insurance nightmare for some company.

Yes, this is only going to affect top level schools however this is a glimpse of the future for kids around the world. A great job by Core and for the first time in over ten years I can safely say I want to go back to school!


Entrepreneurship or MBA?

It’s an age old question: do you get yourself an MBA or take the money you would have spent on studies and launch your own company. Many people study an MBA to further their career however it seems to be a growing trend to get an MBA to help further your entrepreneurial career. There are some great points to consider in terms of benefits:

  1. You get a great network
  2. You learn patience and the ability to finish something that many could not manage
  3. A good entrepreneur should always be learning something new

An MBA should theoretically unlock your entrepreneurial skills as well as advance your knowledge. Ultimately we’re in a world where jobs should be created by business and not government so it’s important to incubate these skills. S0me other great thoughts on the matter:

MBA entreprepreneurs get crucial guidance and support from highly motivated and intelligent people. They also find in their classmates like-minded partners and co-founders who bring much value to a startup, not to mention direct access to serial entrepreneurs who as permanent faculty or executives-in-residence are eager to mentor young people through the process. And finally most schools today have formal programs that often provide seed capital to get a company up and running before you use the school’s alumni network for more capital or customers.


Surveys of MBA graduates show that the vast majority believe their education was vital to the success of their startups. Nine out of ten believe that an MBA helped them lead their companies, grow their businesses and develop their ideas. Some 86% of MBA entrepreneurs feel that their education helped them develop financial projections for their businesses and 81% thought that an MBA helped them write a more compelling business plan.

Personally all I wanted to do when studying was to start a business however going to business school was one of the best choices I’ve made in ages. While I’m no MBA graduate it makes perfect sense to study in order to get ahead of other entrepreneurs in the market.

There are some more points and a longer explanation in the original article available here.


Should you get a certificate?

Before I write anything let me be the first to say I’m a degree snob. I think it’s important to get a degree, it shows you are capable of sticking through something difficult and does teach you a different way of thinking. I was brought up (read fed propaganda) to believe this and I’m sticking with it for now. However, in this day and age where studying is done online and self study is more and more common can you get away with just a certificate from a training organisation? I’ve been doing some research and came across the following:

On average, certificate holders earn about $39,000. That’s less than the $54,000 a bachelor’s degree holder earns but it’s more than the $29,000 the average high school graduate takes home. And, depending on the certificate you go for, you can actually end up with a higher paying job than someone with more education. A male with a certificate in computer and information service can earn about $72,000 per year—more than 72 percent of his peers with an associate’s degree and more than 54 percent of male bachelor’s degree holders.

It’s a matter of efficiency, if you can get a decent salary in your area of interest with a shorter course certificate then I don’t really see an issue. However, I do think everyone should attempt to spend at least one year at university, for the experience alone. That said, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea and it’s not exactly cheap. Would I say that certificates are the way forward? I certainly hope not since it could be considered lowering the bar but it does provide hope for a growing tertiary education problem.

Source (Good.is)