The University of Cape Town, in collaboration with Valenture Institute, has launched an online high school, making them the first University in the continent to do so. The school has two offerings: the formal high school, where students are enrolled at a fee of R2,095 a month, the second is access to a free zero-rated platform for the general public to access the curriculum without mentorship or tutoring.
The school’s “ecosystem”, as it is described, includes blended learning micro-schools for learners to access a physical space (if needs be) as well as hardware and internet connection. Learners will not follow a standardised teaching schedule with live classes but have asynchronous timetables and access to one-on-one and group sessions with teachers.
The school will officially open its doors in January 2022. Grade 12 classes will only start in 2023. The CAPS-aligned curriculum will offer ten subjects to learners in grades 8 to 9 and 14 subjects for grades 10, 11 and 12. More subjects will be added each year.
In future, the school will provide a series of bridging courses, matric rewrite programmes and alternative university credit programmes “to provide South Africans with alternative and affordable pathways to achieve tertiary awards,” said Phakeng.
According to Robert Paddock, the CEO of Valenture Institute, the online learning experience is based on six core pillars: Personalised pacing, Mastery-based progression through learning modules, Caring teachers and support coaches, Supported self-discipline, Science of online learning; and, Data-driven support.
The online school is part of UCTs Vision 2030 to create new ways to approach South Africa’s complex problems, one of which is to “advance holistic, innovative future-oriented education”.