Is online High and Primary Schooling effective in South Africa

Education in South Africa came to a grinding halt after the introduction of the first hard lockdown in March 2020. Most traditional “private” schools took the opportunity to offer online learning which was a difficult switch for most learners and educators, raising the question of what education may look like in the new normal.

Registered online schools were the least affected as this was the perfect time for them to showcase the advantages of online learning to most parents who were worried about the safety and health of their kids.

Online learning has been in existence long before the pandemic, with many establishments offering distance learning to learners from grade R to 12.

High and primary school online learning can be the most effective for most kids who have issues with adjusting to traditional learning methods. Contextual factors such as poverty, absenteeism of educators, ill-equipped and large classes, lack of teaching and learning resources could be the main issue with excelling through traditional learning. Online learning comes with so much flexibility that allows the learners to explore different learning methods, learning at their own “monitored” pace.

Online schools offer more class options than traditional schools because they are not restricted by a limited number of classrooms or teachers. Some online schools offer specialisations or the opportunity to tailor your child’s courses to subjects that interest them more, allowing your child to learn about a subject that you as a parent are not an expert in, such as advanced math classes, and overall benefitting your child with a well-rounded education.

Which Curriculum is taught online for high and primary schools?

Fully registered online schools follow various educational programmes from CAPS, British to the Cambridge curriculum. Importantly, when choosing a school, you need to ensure that the school is registered with the South African Comprehensive Assessment Institute (Sacai), which monitors education providers who adhere to the Department of Basic Education's CAPS curriculum.

For most online institutions, the aim is to encourage independent learning but, they offer different learning methods. Some learners have access to tutors and lessons online, using textbooks, study guides, and access to recorded lessons.


Which are the Top Online High and Primary Schools in South Africa?

1. Switch-Edu Online - offers a contemporary and fresh new approach to learning by renewing traditional teaching methods and delivering a dynamic, relevant and practical curriculum that reflects current attitudes.

2. UCT Online High School - In partnership with Valenture Institute, UCT offer an online high school that not only expertly prepares learners for tertiary education, but provides every learner with a highly engaging, social, and personalised learning experience at an affordable price.

3. St Stithians Online School - offers an international curriculum, individualised student support and a vibrant community that opens doors to the best universities around the world.

4. Curro Online - easy-to-follow online learning programme presented by dedicated teachers lets your child learn from home using online mediums while still getting the best possible quality online education. 

5. Impaq - provides learners across the country with everything they need to complete Grades R – 12 at home. With products and services used by more than 1 500 independent tutors countrywide.

6. Koa Academy - provides an IEB education for children in grades 4-12 through an online learning environment that is both structured and individualised. Our small classes (Pods) are highly engaging and allow children to work at their own pace while having constant access to outstanding academic support from a team of experienced educators.

7. Evolve - is designed to take each child on a journey of personal mastery, using trend-setting curriculum mapping systems developed by MIT, where they progress at their own deliberate or accelerated pace.

8. Think Digital Academy - is an international online school that prides itself in providing world-class online learning to students all over the world. Think Digital presents online content in an interactive, engaging, and effective way for virtual school students.

9. Praxis - promotes student achievement, engagement, and wellbeing. Promoting a ‘student focused’ approach helps us to set expectations and promote inclusion within a positive learning climate. 

0. CambriLearn – the curriculum is based on the world’s most widely-recognised British system of learning and assessment, preparing students of all ages to be successful in work, at university and in life.

How much does it cost?

When compared to traditional schools, online learning is seen to be much cheaper and affordable. Annual fees for online learning range from as little as R14 000 to R60 000 annually while traditional school fees can range from around R73 080 (grade R full day) to R110 880 (grade ten to twelve) annually, their 2021 annual online fees amount to between R44 160 (grade four to seven) and R50 400 (grade eight to ten).

These fees do not include e-books, learning materials, and e-learning devices such as laptops. But, by opting for more accessibly priced online learning, parents could be making savings of up to R60 480, annually.

How to Enrol your kids?

Not all online schools will provide your child with quality education so, the first step to take before you can enrol your child at any online learning school is to do thorough research on the available schools.

All online schools have websites that have all the necessary information and directions on how to apply. So, you will have to apply for your child’s enrolment online or contact the school for more information or assistance.

You will have to make sure that your child has the right home facility and equipment(s) to excel in online learning.