Earlier this week the University of Cape Town teased an impending announcement that it said would be, “a major education milestone”. During a media briefing held this morning, the institution officially unveiled the UCT Online High School.
The new initiative forms part of UCT’s Vision 2030 initiative, with the past 18 months under the pandemic also proving a significant influence. Over the past two years we have seen just how wide the digital divide is in the country and in particular how those without access to technology and connectivity are being left behind.
“UCT’s Vision 2030 is not just about making UCT sustainable in our changing world. It is also about giving South Africans the tools to unleash their own potential to help create a fair and just society,” noted VC, Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, noted during the briefing
With that in mind, the UCT Online High School is aiming to address the imbalance, but it remains to be seen how it will address the myriad hurdles that face disadvantaged learners in the country.
“The problems facing the education sector are multifaceted, so we need multifaceted solutions. What’s abundantly clear is that we can’t keep doing the same things, over and over, and expect different results. We need to disrupt basic education,” explained Phakeng.
“This is why the University of Cape Town is launching an online high school, with our first intake of learners in January 2022. As the name implies, this is a high school,” she added.
As the insitution unpacked during the briefing, the Online High School is an ecosystem for learners and will feature the following elements:
- “A fully supported online high school from R2 095 per month, offering a personalised education for every learner with support from expert teachers and mentors
- An entirely free online, high-quality and interactive school curriculum for any teacher and learner to use for a broad range of South African CAPS subjects (from January 2022 onwards)
- A series of blended learning micro schools for learners who need the safety of a physical space, as well as access to reliable hardware and internet connection to complete their studies
- A range of bridging courses, matric rewrite programmes and alternative university credit programmes to provide South Africans with affordable pathways to access tertiary opportunities (still to be implemented).”
The first intake of students will take place in January 2022, from grades 8 to 12. It is, however, important to note that Matric will only be offered from 2023.
The Online High School will also offer the following to learners:
- “A personalised timetable for every learner
- Expert teacher and mentor support
- A broad range of clubs and societies
- Dedicated career guidance and support.”
It remains to be seen what the interest in such an offering will be, as well as how effectively it will be run, given the struggles that distance learning institution Unisa has had both during and before the pandemic. Also of interest is whether other tertiary institutions will follow UCT’s lead and announce online High Schools of their own.
For now, those interested in the UCT Online High School can find more information and an application portal here.