In recent years, South Africa has seen a boom in online education thanks to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. With the advancement of technology, education is becoming more accessible, providing an abundance of information in various forms – from e-books and infographics, visual aids and videos – learning materials are now available at the touch of a button. Whether it’s a smartphone, tablet or notebook.
However, in South Africa, the cost of data, limited access to a computer or laptop, and the challenges of internet connectivity are disadvantages for many students and alumni who want to take advantage of online learning.
“South Africa is far from frozen right now. The technology and know-how are here, but we struggle with some of the fundamental enablers like reliable electricity, affordable data and enabling laws. To truly flourish,” says Robert Paddock, CEO and co-founder of the Venture Institute, an education Technology Impact Company partners with leading educational institutions to provide high school experiences for students worldwide.
Robert Paddock, CEO and Co-Founder of The Venture Institute. Image provided
The Venture Institute partnered with the University of Cape Town to create the UCT Online High School, which launched in July 2021. It is reported to be the first university on the African continent to expand its online education system to high school.
Online learning is a very broad term that is interpreted by many – some expect live classes throughout the day on various streaming services, others expect a more blended learning experience, and some expect to access content only on a platform.
“There is work to be done for all online education providers in South Africa to help the market better understand the differences between the system and enable them to make the most informed decision and find the best fit for their child,” says Paddock. .
As a relatively new medium in South Africa, one of the hardest things for online education providers is to ensure that their market really understands what they are signing up for.
“The online school is attractive to students in all grades and to students with special needs,” said Banelle Luckle, School Executive and Chief Academic Officer of UCT Online Secondary School.
Banelle Luckhele, School Executive and Chief Academic Officer, UCT Online Secondary School. Image provided
Paddock’s view on online education: “Educational technology offers the best opportunity to ensure that every student in South Africa can get a high-quality education. We are going to lose half of the teachers in the traditional system. By 2030, our youth population is exploding, and “The budget for the student is decreasing. In a system where it is now very difficult, we need to start thinking about how to solve the difficult challenge of educating the youth and technology. It gives the best chance to get rid of the current challenges.”
Luckhele added: “Online learning is an exciting place of continuous innovation, so we’re always learning. That’s the beauty of it – we can adapt, develop and adjust much faster than in a traditional school. The main goal is to educate, enrich and grow the student throughout their high school career.” So it is better for the student.
Speaking of innovation, since its launch in July 2021, UCT Online High School offered only grades 8-11 and now welcomes over 4,000 students in its first class of 12th in 2023.
Luckhale is eager to help these students take their final steps before entering the world of work or the higher education institution of their choice.
“Apart from the previously mentioned reforms, this year we are focusing on special support for different departments. In this regard, we have a special academic calendar for matrics to ensure that all the content is covered before they write their pre-lim and final NSC exams. We have also allocated ample time for revision, which Additional resources and academic support will help cover knowledge gaps and test-related skills,” says Luckle.
“If they decide to study further, they can adapt to blended learning and prepare for remote or blended workplaces if their next step is to do so.”
Technology offers promising opportunities for the education industry
Lukell believes that the education industry is being deliberately focused on teacher jobs and technology jobs. “At UCT Online High School, we see ourselves at the forefront of this innovation. We focus on technological innovation and apply our minds to improve what we offer to remain affordable without compromising the quality of learning. That will happen. In a few years, UCT Online High School will lead the conversation and make accessible education a reality.” I see it supporting growth in the country and the continent,” she said.
Paddock believes that within the next 10 years every student in South Africa will have a personal digital tutor, providing them with truly personalized content, updates and support to give them the best possible chance of reaching their academic potential.
Access to education
As tough economic times become a daily reality for many South Africans, Paddock says there are more and more families who want to join UCT’s online secondary school but cannot afford some or all of it. Current tuition fees.
“We have now successfully partnered with four major corporate sponsors who support the continued enrollment of over 150 students in UCT’s online high school. Through these initiatives and partnerships, we at Valenture Institute are on a mission to increase access to quality online education. More scholarships for our students Finding Opportunities Although we cannot do it alone, it is clear that we will launch our corporate partner campaign with a call to action – be committed to making a real difference in a growing society.
In particular, the UCT Online High School ecosystem is designed to serve South African students from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds.
“Our SA National Senior Curriculum (CAPS-aligned) aims to accelerate access to world-class secondary education so that we can unleash South Africa’s potential. Thanks to the Michael and Suzanne Dale Foundation, we are able to make our commitment. – Edge Online Curriculum in South Africa It’s available for free to any student, teacher or parent,” Luckhele added.
While South Africa still faces many challenges in the education sector, there is no doubt that technology is playing a vital role in making education accessible and affordable for all South Africans.