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“With South Africa being in its first official recession for 17 years and global markets crashing like dominoes, everyone is ‘downsizing’ in some or other way – and gift-giving is no exception”. Eduloan’s CEO, Johan Wasserfall, says “When it comes to buying a gift for someone you care about, flash and expense are no longer ‘in’ – now, more than ever, it’s the thought that counts’ when giving a gift.

“So it’s definitely time to think smart: more and more people are cottoning onto the fact that education is one of the few gifts you can give someone that truly ‘keeps on giving’, lasts forever, has lifelong returns and – best of all – is not only a guilt-free option, but a definite ‘feel-good’ option!”

A present for the future…

In the past, parents and grandparents looking for that perfect high-school graduation, 21st birthday, Christmas, engagement or wedding present for their children traditionally looked at options like funding an overseas vacation, a car, a wardrobe of clothes or household appliances.

The reality today is that your rand won’t translate into much of a holiday abroad, a cheaper ‘run-around’ is a better option than a new car and it makes more sense to purchase a new wardrobe of clothes or household appliances as one goes along instead of all at once.

“Most especially in our unstable labour market, if your son or daughter (or grandchild) is not educationally equipped to enter the workforce and be able to grow upwards and outwards in their career, it doesn’t matter what kind of car, holiday or shoes they have – they will be destined to float at the bottom of the pool,” advises Wasserfall.

“Whereas, if you fund their education, you are literally opening future doors for them in the present, and ensuring that they soar as high as possible in their careers and their lives. While our economic crash means many people are not in a financial position to layout large sums of cash for education, it is certainly possible to obtain fair education finance, with comfortable repayment periods and charges that won’t cripple your budget.”

Ways to give…

Wasserfall advises that parents and grandparents could consider the following educational avenues as gifts to their children/grandchildren:

• Pay for your son/daughter to attend varsity, a university of technology or Further Education and Training College to gain valuable skills;

• Consider financing part-time and/or distance studies for your already working children, so as to ensure their skills are kept top-notch and in demand in the workplace;

• Help your child out a dead end job by paying for them to study a lifelong hobby or passion along with entrepreneurialism so that they realize their dreams of their own business one day;

• Even if your children/grandchildren plan to pay off their studies themselves, they may have trouble securing a loan due to their lack of proven work experience and/or available income – you could consider securing the loan for them;

• If your children have secured their own study loan, you can reimburse them the interest and finance charges as a ‘study incentive’;

• Secure the loan and pay for the first installment as a way to ‘get them going’;

• Give them a ‘provisional’ gift and strong motivation combined, by agreeing to pay off their education as long as they obtain a good pass;

• Grandparents could make it a family tradition to fund each grandchild’s education upon them turning 18;

• If you have a family business that your children are interested in, you could not only give them the gift of educating themselves about the business – it will also be good for your family’s turnover and profits at the end of the day!

Funding your gift…

Wasserfall advises people looking to fund their children or grandchildren’s education to approach a company such as Eduloan, as it has a pinpoint focus solely on educational finance. In fact, since its inception in 1996, Eduloan has provided in excess of 500,000 educational loans to the tune of R2bn to South African students and in this time it has gained positive insight into just how valuable education is to people at the end of the day.

Eduloan is also a responsible lender and only provides loans that fit comfortably into the borrower’s budget, with fair repayment terms and amounts and fixed interest rates. Best of all, your educational gift certainly need not become an administrative burden: Eduloan has admin systems in place that enable it to automatically deduct loan repayment amounts directly off your salary (or via debit order) and thereafter make payment of the correct fees directly to the relevant institution each month.

Lateral gifting…

“Parents and grandparents investing in the gift of education for their children or grandchildren should also look carefully at South Africa’s labour market,” advises Wasserfall. “While we all know that companies are retrenching and laying off people, we seem to forget that South Africa is also still experiencing massive skills shortages in many industries. See where these shortages are and see how they could dovetail with your child/grandchildren’s aspirations.”

Parents and elders can also help their children see more laterally in terms of their desired career aspirations. Wasserfall advises that, according to the 2008 annual Talent Shortage Survey conducted Manpower Inc., 38% of the South African employers surveyed listed their top skilled shortages (in order of importance) as:

skilled manual trades (especially electricians, carpenters/joiners and welders); engineers; accounting and finance staff; technicians; management/executives; teachers; drivers; sales representatives; IT staff and secretaries (including PA’s, administrative assistants and office support staff).

“As you can see, whereas you may have had aspirations for your child to become a doctor, but all he has ever wanted to do is fiddle with wires and circuitry, he may in fact be better off in the future studying a trade rather than medicine,” says Wasserfall. “Think smart: if you complement those studies with a good, solid business or entrepreneurship course, you will be equipping him with the ability to operate his own business at any time and anywhere in the world.”

Wasserfall concludes: “So next time you’re wracking your brains for the perfect present for your child or grandchild, imagine their faces when they open up their card from you and see a ‘gift voucher’ for a course of study of their choice. It will never ‘go out of fashion’, depreciate, be too big or small or be furtively swapped for something else – education truly is the gift that keeps on giving!”






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