More and more people are being schooled outside of the four walls of an institution and are instead opting to take more control of their learning. Whether it is in criticism of the available systems, or for matters of convenience, individuals are opting out at a higher rate.
What started as correspondence learning, mainly for tertiary, in the 1800s has now moved fully online and spans all educational levels. Children can now start and complete their entire school career, and even work, exclusively from the comfort of their own four walls.
This first led to the popularity of homeschooling, where parents took over as teachers and now, online learning, where parents don’t need to be as involved as educators. In response, SA Homeschoolers was formed. The organisation’s purpose is to empower parents so they can choose the best education for their children. On the 14th of May, in Kwazulu-Natal, along with the entity responsible for admin and logistics, KragDag, they hosted the KwaZulu-Natal Home Education Expo, where many industry leaders tackled topics like the right age for children to start maths, individualised learning, the role of fathers and husbands in homeschooling and cultivating memory in the age of information.
One of the many informative speakers was Yandiswa Xhakaza, the Principal and Director of the fastest growing online education offering, UCT Online High School. Her fireside chat drew guardians and learners to the institution’s stall where they had fun giving away apparel prizes and answering questions like how much does it cost to attend the online school, how they can apply, how the school caters to differently-abled students, and how exams are written.
The perk of online schooling for disabled children is that they are able to learn in the comfort and safety of their own homes. UCT Online High School learners are able to see how they are progressing and determine whether they need to put in more or less hours to move on to the next level. Exams are written online and facilitated by the school under proctored conditions. Matriculants, however, write their final exams at a physical examination venue in South Africa, which the school organises.
Another interesting topic of conversation was the Basic Education Laws Amendment (BELA) Bill presented by Bouwe van der Eems of the Pestalozzi Trust, which works to “protect the freedom to provide home and private education.” The bill is still under consideration by the National Assembly and some of the regulations it seeks to introduce include the prohibition of corporal punishment and initiation practises, compulsory schooling starting with Grade R, language policies and curriculum, and a few others.
The expo was a great success that allowed learners and guardians to explore some of the alternative learning options available to them. One of whom travelled over 300kms, in bad weather, to be there. A testament to the commitment parents and guardians have to quality education for their young ones, even if it’s one that’s vastly different from what they grew up on.