Western Cape Education Department Aims High

The Western Cape is hopeful to increase its level of matric passes this year, aiming for a pass rate of at least 75%. Helen Zille and her education MEC, Debbie Schafer, say it is important to look at the retention rate of Grade 10 pupils in order to arrive at the ‘real’ matric pass rate. The province’s retention rate for Grade 10 to 12 has improved from 53.1% in 2009 to 63.5% in 2014. Last year 85.1% of pupils in the Western Cape attained their national senior certificate.

The province is aiming to reach a target of 43 000 passes this year as compared to the 40 558 in 2013. At this point, just below 50 000 full-time pupils are registered to write their final exams. “The Western Cape education department will continue to assist learners in the remaining 42 days with intensive support to schools,” says Zille.

Additionally, the Western Cape is hoping to maintain a target of 40% of pupils achieving access to education at a tertiary level. The South African government says they are committed to increasing the numbers of honours graduates to more than 75 000, masters’ graduates to more than 17 000, and doctoral graduates to more than 5 000, by the end of 2014. Unfortunately, the challenge in fully meeting these targets “is that the production of these skills is threatened by an ageing lecturing workforce at higher education institutions,” says Zuma. “One fifth of academics will retire within a decade, and many of these are professors”. This means the most experienced of academics “will be leaving higher education”. South Africa needs to produce more graduates entering the education field and so we need to make academia more “exciting for our youth”.

Written by Kristin Naude
BrightSparkz specialist tutor – Maths Literacy, English, History and Biology

BrightSparkz Tutors – Simple Tips To Help Beat Your Exams

It can be difficult to concentrate and study, especially when our brains take in about 11 million bits of information per second! If you struggle to concentrate and stay focused on your studies, the following tips can be helpful:

Study Tips:

  • Keep two to-do lists: One to-do list for everything you need to do. Keep this list away when you are studying. The second to-do list should only contain the three items you are going to complete next; nothing goes on this list unless something else comes off!
  • Make a study timetable: Ask your BrightSparkz tutor to help you set up a timetable that fits in with your specific schedule and needs.
  • Find a suitable study environment and stay away from your cellphone!
  • Set study goals: What do you want to achieve? Now do it!
  • Reward yourself: Set a goal for how much work you will learn in a specified amount of time. When you have achieved this goal, reward yourself with something you enjoy.
  • Learn to say no: Even though seeing your friends is more enjoyable, a holiday spent with your friends while knowing you achieved good results is even better!
  • Post-Its: Stick them around your room to remind you of your priorities or even use them to remember those important points for a test!

Foods that help you concentrate:

  • Nuts with dark chocolate: Nuts and seeds are natural vitamin E antioxidants and lessen cognitive decline as we age. Dark chocolate also contains caffeine to enhance focus.
  • Avocadoes and whole grains: This helps with blood flow, which helps when you are stuck studying for extended periods.
  • Fish: Many refer to it as brain food
  • Blueberries: Are very nutritious and studies show that they can help improve learning and muscle function.
  • Water: Your body becomes tired and dehydrated when you do not drink enough water. This makes you lose focus and to become tired. Keep a bottle of water next to you when you study.

Written by Kristin Naude

BrightSparkz specialist tutor – Maths Literacy, English, History and Biology


Do you have any good tips you would like to add?  Feel free to add your comment!

Good luck and have fun

The need for home tutors in South Africa

According to the 2014 Global Information Technology Report, under the sub-category, ‘skills’, the quality of South Africa’s maths and science education comes in last place. South Africa fares behind the likes of Haiti, Lesotho, Chad, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Kenya. Worse still, according to the World Economic Forum report, the quality of South Africa’s maths and science education places it last out of 148 countries.

Democratic Alliance education spokesperson Annette Lovemore said, the ministerial report exposes “gaping holes at every level of our education system.” The national education strategy is considered outdated; there is a major shortage of qualified teachers and, those who are qualified have been negatively affected by the curriculum changes over the last 10 years.

With a rise in unemployment, an increase in occupational requirements coupled with international competition and limited space for further study; a “quality education” is now, more than ever, “a crucial necessity for creating more globally competitive young adults, much-needed jobs and entrepreneurs,” says Lovemore.

So how do we as South Africans, or better yet, as students, move past and succeed in a country whose educational system and standards appear almost dismal?

I have been tutoring for 3 years and I cannot help but notice the dwindling amount of importance and enthusiasm some learners place on their education. Some of my learners receive exam notes that are so poorly printed even I cannot make out the words. If teachers (certainly not all) do not care enough to equip learners with the requirements to pass, how can we as parents or educators blame them?

Brightsparkz tutors employ only the best tutors to help fill any gaps and difficulties that your learner may be experiencing. By selecting the best tutor for the learner’s specific needs, BrightSparkz Tutors help them gain a greater level of enthusiasm for their education which is the first step in achieving academic success.

Written by Kristin Naude

BrightSparkz specialist tutor – Maths Literacy, English, History and Biology

Tutor Tips for You These Holidays

With April holidays just around on the corner, we can all (tutors and learners) have the much needed break that we deserve. For the matrics it’s the last non-studying holiday for the year (although you really should use this time to make sure you understand everything you have done so far – and if you don’t understand, be sure to ask your tutor for some holiday help.) and for the rest of us, it’s a chance to appreciate waking up a bit later and to soak up the last few days of warmth.

Holidays are also an excellent time to reflect on the work we have done so far. To be honest about our strengths and our weaknesses and to think about how we can improve next term.

Perhaps your first term report wasn’t as good as you had hoped?  Here are some tips on how to use these holidays to improve before (gasp!) exams next term:

1)      If there is a Maths sum that you don’t quite understand, try to explain what you think the steps are to your Maths tutor. Sometimes explaining something to someone else can help you realise that you understand more than you thought.

2)      English essays are a great way to improve your English mark – but many people lose out on a good percentage because of simple spelling mistakes. The best way to improve your writing is to read. Find a topic that interests you, and read as much as you can about it. If you aren’t sure, ask your tutor to make some recommendations, or chat to us on our Facebook wall and we’ll help you find something you will love!

3)      The spelling mistakes I was talking about above? Here is a list of words that are most commonly misspelled. Learn them!

–         their (and the difference between there, they’re and their!)

–         a lot

–         received

–         separate

–         until

–         because

–         beginning

–         different

–         occurred

–         believe

–         which

–         truly

–         really

–         definitely

4)      Do a Science experiment for someone younger than you. It can be something simple – like showing a young child how to make different colours by mixing food colouring, or something more complicated – like illustrating how Newton’s Laws work. Either way, showing someone something new will not only help them, but help you realise how interesting and relevant science really is.

5)      Learn something new. Ask your Biology or History tutor for some more information about a topic that you find interesting. Find a tutorial on how to make an origami flower. Learn the name (Latin and common) of trees you drive past everyday. Learn how to play Sudoku. Learn ANYTHING. Just use your brain – appreciate how much it can do, and you’ll be amazed at how much you are capable of knowing.

6)      Clean your room! An unorganised desk is the sign of an unorganised mind.

7)      Exercise. A healthy body will improve brain functionality – give you endorphins (happy hormones!) and give you more energy.


I hope that everyone has a happy, safe and restful holiday.


Make the Most of your Education

According to southafrica.info, 18% of people over that age of 15 in our country are illiterate. Furthermore, it is estimated that nearly 9 million people are not functionally literate in South Africa. How can these statistics ever hope to be improved when currently one out of every three school attending children do not have work books?

Tony Blair was once quoted as saying that the three most important priorities of his government would be “education, education and education” – and yet so many of us fail to recognise its importance while still at school. Don’t worry – I’m not going to jump onto my high horse and start preaching about how school is the best days of your life, and that you should appreciate your education (although, really, you should) but as a tutor, I’m starting to realise more and more how important it is for young children to realise that there really is something to be grateful for.

According to the Huffington Post, college graduates earn 84% more than High School graduates.  Education pays – quite literally. So how can you make the most out of your education and the wonderful opportunity that has been afforded you – someone privileged enough to attend a good, if not great, school? I’ve made a list of my top 5 tips to get the most out of your education:

1)      Always do your homework.

This one is probably the most obvious – and it really is the most important. Homework is not an evil device invented by a sadistic terrorist with a long goatee and a top hat, designed specifically to torture you and keep you away from Gossip Girl reruns or MTV.  It’s there to help you practice what you learnt that day, and discover any problems that you might have BEFORE your exams.

 2)      Ask questions

If your teacher, or tutor, says something that you don’t understand, ask for another explanation. That’s what they are there for – and at the end of the day, it’s better to be slightly embarrassed in class, than awfully embarrassed when exam results come back.

 3)      Take subjects that you are passionate about

In South Africa, we only get the opportunity to choose our subjects for the last 3 years of school – and it is so important that you make the right choice for YOU. Have an honest discussion with your parents about where your interests lie, and then follow your passions. Not in grade 10 yet? Choose essay, speech and project topics (whenever possible) that suit things that you love. It’s much easier to write about something you know than having to do endless research about a topic that you find boring. If you choose something you love – it will always show in your marks.

 4)      Do an extramural activity

Most schools offer a huge variety of things that you can do after school – be it a sport, cultural activity or even a service to the school. Any one of these things will make you feel more passionate about school, and give you something to look forward to. It also looks great on university applications if you are a well-rounded pupil.

 5)      Admit when you don’t understand

There are so many avenues open to students these days that there is no need to struggle through your homework alone. If you don’t understand a section – or if a whole subject is Greek to you – admit it to yourself and your parents as soon as possible. Being weaker in a certain area is nothing to be embarrassed about – everyone has their own strengths and weakness. Do extra examples. Ask your parents for help. Get a tutor. Having one-on-one tuition with someone experienced in that subject will go along way in preparing you for your exams long before there is a mad panic and rush a week before the exam. It is never too early to start preparing for matric!

Did you know: The Wright brother’s first flight was a total distance of only 36.5 meters – which is shorter than the wingspan of a Boeing 707!


Charlie Brown

Online Maths & English Tutoring

Maths and English Online Tuition for Grades 1 – 9

My Own Tutor, an exciting new service powered by BrightSparkz Tutors, is a fully comprehensive online learning support program specializing in Maths and English for Grade 1 through to Grade 9.

Originally developed in the UK by leading educators with over 30 years of experience, this dynamic program has helped and continues to help thousands of learners.

The Key Features of My Own Tutor are:

  • Fun and challenging online Maths & English revision exercises that will improve marks and boost confidence in your children!
  • Weekly homework tasks set for the learner, personalised to suit their academic requirements and pace.
  • Online Maths and English lessons in individual topics which can be reviewed whenever it’s convenient
  • One-on-one teacher support on-call weekdays between x and x, using interactive whiteboards. Our qualified teachers offer Maths and English support which is just a call away.
  • Parent portal/login where you can monitor your child’s on-going progress, view detailed reports and set the amount of weekly tasks.
  • Weekly reports and summaries are automatically sent to you for a snap shot of what has been accomplished that week.
  • An individual access for up to 4 children.
  • Access to the Family Zone which includes useful services for families such as educational games, early learning tools and more…

For more information and prices contact us or visit the website http://www.myowntutor.co.za and an educational consultant will be in touch shortly.