South Africa faces unique education challenges. Every year we hear stories of students being denied access to universities because of insufficient marks. Equally heart-wrenching are the stories of students who get into university or technikon but are unable to cope with the demands of tertiary education and, as a result, fail to obtain their qualifications. This is a mounting and daunting reality for many South African students at tertiary level.
UNISA students are amongst the many tertiary-level students in South Africa who are seemingly unable to cope with their studies. In fact, a sobering 85% of students who enrol with the University of South Africa (UNISA) never complete their degrees. Thankfully, this problem appears to have been significantly reduced since the inception of Together We Pass, a social learning service that helps UNISA students with their studies. In short, Together We Pass assists students to understand their coursework better, through discussion forums with classmates, providing students access to library resources, offering group revision before exams and a lot more.
Upon its inception in 2008, the company offered just one subject, with 156 students signing up, thus beginning the Together We Pass (TWP) journey. Today, TWP offers over 420 subjects, with almost 3000 students registering in 2012.This positive response prompted founder and CEO Tabitha Bailey (in collaboration with Paperight)to launch a new book, which she says is the first online resource of its kind for UNISA students. The book offers students comprehensive guidance to studying with UNISA. The book is free and has over 30 pages of tools, tips and resources that are designed to assist any student doing distance learning.
Missed the interactive support
Tabitha said that she began offering services to students when she herself was studying through UNISA in 2008. She said that she felt isolated and missed the interactive support offered at traditional learning institutions, so she wanted to find a way for students to come together.
"Our company has helped thousands of students achieve their goals. I'm passionate about finding new and innovative ways to support them, not only in completing their studies but also in achieving their full potential," explained Tabitha.
The book has chapters on time management, how to study better, exam study methods, joining a study group, understanding questions, and study loans. By all accounts the online learning service is proving to be effective and helpful, resulting in students improving their marks, and most importantly completing their degrees.
Tabitha noted that she would like to see her company expanding and implementing other programmes that will assist students further. She recently joined the Old Mutual Legends programme, which works with entrepreneurs looking to grow their business. She believes that the support and mentorship she's getting from the programme will help her company achieve its goals. "We are currently in the process of releasing a new quiz application, one that not only tests a student's strengths and weaknesses but supplies them with the theory they need to increase their knowledge. This will give them an accurate idea of whether they can pass their exam, and ensure that more students are able to complete their university degrees," concluded Tabitha.
Abram Molelemane is a journalism graduate at the Tshwane University of Technology. In 2011 he was nominated for the Record print journalist of the year award. He is currently employed as the media officer at Fetola.
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