By Zodidi Dano for IOL
The University of Cape Town has launched an online high school which will be doing its first intake in 2022.
UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng made the announcement on Wednesday at a media briefing.
“The University of Cape Town is committed to playing our part in addressing the systemic challenges facing our education system. As a result, we have taken the bold step to launch an innovative online high school in January 2022, where the academic excellence of UCT can be extended to high school learners across the country.
“The UCT Online High School will create a new opportunity for learners across South Africa to choose an aspirational school and unleash their potential,” she said.
The online high school will be opening for admissions applications on Wednesday, July 21, with classes starting in January next year.
Phakeng said the university was following in the footsteps of some of the international prestigious universities such as Stanford’s Online High School. It is the first university in Africa to extend its expertise and impact to the secondary schooling market through an innovative online modality.
The online high school which was created in partnership with Valenture Institute followed nine months of discussions, research and engagements with government and other stakeholders.
The online high school will follow the CAPS aligned curriculum.
Valenture Institute chief executive Robert Paddock said the online high school was an ecosystem that would include a free online learning school platform, extensive support, expert teachers and coaches as well as a blended learning micro school (using existing infrastructure as a co-learning space with mentor supervision).
The tuition would cost R2 095 a month. The admission fee was R200 and there was an enrolment requirement.
The school would be from grades 8 to 12. However, the Grade 12 intake would be in 2023, Paddock said.
IsiXhosa and IsiZulu would be offered in the first year but more African languages would be added as the years progressed.
Grades 8 and 9 would have 10 subjects, with subjects to be added every year. While grades 10,11 and 12 would have 14 subjects. The teacher-learner ratio was 1:30.
Paddock said the online high school was created with core principal pillars.
- Personalised pacing – Learners would have their own crafted personalised learning schedule which would be monitored by teachers.
- Mastery- based – no learners progressed to the next learning level until they mastered the level they were in.
- Caring teacher and support coaches – That offered the learner individual support.
- Support and self–discipline – Learners would be held accountable to reach their goals.
- Science of online learning – The school was designed to address the needs of an ever-changing world.
- Data driven – Keeping track of learners’ progression and teachers.
- Paddock said exclusive online learning was not a solution for children in rural areas.
He said there was a free Open online platform accessible to everyone for high quality education content purposely built for online work, but the difference would be that the free online platform would not have teaching support.
On the Open online platform, learners had full access to a self-paced curriculum where they could progress at their own pace through expert designed interactive notes, videos, animations, simulations, practise assignments, quizzes and more.
UCT Chair of Council Babalwa Ngonyama said: “Entering the secondary school market with an innovative blended learning solution is certainly a bold move. But it is also a logical extension of UCT’s mission to advance a more equitable and sustainable social order.
“The university’s transformative purpose is not just to change how we do things on campus, but to renew our society and give our nation the possibility of a better future. As Vision 2030.”