Q: I am in need of information on the following areas and was hoping you can assist. I am from Swaziland and looking to further my studies, I am currently employed as a primary school assistant and looking to become a teacher. The options I have looked at is studying in Swaziland, South Africa (at Wits in Johannesburg) and possibly overseas particularly in Ireland. I am in need of information of options along with financial assistance for each.
A: It is really awesome that you have an ambition to become a teacher, the world needs more teachers for sure! In terms of your options there is a lot of information out there and you need to get online and research.
Firstly you need to check out the Africa Grant Makers Affinity Group website. They have a full database of financial options for individuals, streamline their funding search section to select “education” you can find financial opportunities targeted towards this sector. There are a lot of fellowships, scholarships, bursaries and funds on offer, you need to apply to as many as you can.
If you are still battling with financial plans for your study options in Swaziland, you need to negotiate a payment plan with your education provider or even study part-time in order to work whilst you study.
In terms of Swaziland directly we did find a group called Swaziland Schools Program whom are raising funds for projects that are focused on funding education and schools.
Regarding the University of Witwatersrand Johannesburg, they have a full international student section which includes a funding section for foreign students on their respective website.
Ireland makes for an interesting read as would any international study destination, each country has their own foreign student assistant organization which helps foreign students with their studies in that particular country. For Ireland you need to visit the Education in Ireland website, go through their visa requirements along with financial offerings for foreign students.
You can also research options for other countries here.
Generally before you start applying for external funding you should have the following details in check:
1. An educational institution that you qualify for, i.e. meaning you need to know what are the necessary academic requirements needed to be accepted, what is the course material that is needed to pursue this qualification and what level of qualification will you obtain on completion of your studies. Further you need to also make sure that the institution you are applying to is fully accredited, make sure you do a full background check before you commit yourself financially. Finally if you are a foreign student, what are the relevant requirements that you need to have met in order to attend the institution you wish to study at.
2. Acceptance, once you have applied you need to be accepted into a place of study. Therefore try and apply to as many places that fits your needs as possible, the wider your net the more options you will have.
3. Financial Aid, the institution that you have applied to or been accepted at should have a financial office, speak to them first about financial aid options and payment plans.
4. A breakdown of your personal requirements and why you should qualify for student funding. Most financial aid organisations have their own criteria listings, however still draw up a personal motivational letter to validate your need for funding. If you are waiting for an acceptance into a study program, explain that you have applied and your application is being processed. Be proactive and engage with the funding organisation in an open manner.
At the end of the day the options are out there, you need to be able to do the research and make a commitment, both to yourself and your studies. It is about the individual making the best of every opportunity they have.