In July this year, the University of Cape Town (UCT) launched an online high school, and in doing so became the first university on the African continent to extend its expertise and impact to the secondary schooling market through an innovative online modality.
They’ve currently launched the Sanlam UCT Online High Scholarship programme for eager learners looking to gain an education through UCT’s online high school with the deadline set to close on November 17. In light of this, we thought it only fitting to ask the newly appointed headmaster – Yandiswa Xhakaza a few questions.
What are the requirements to join the school?
While applications are now closed after 8,000 applications to date, we’ve moved to a waiting list phase for 2022. Any learner or parent interested in joining the waiting list can head to www.uctonlinehighschool.com/waiting-list, complete the online form, and as we open up additional applications, we’ll be in touch with steps on how to apply.
Will there be any extracurricular activities for the learners?
Definitely! Our Virtual Clubs offer learners a creative online space to share and explore their interests, hobbies and knowledge with like-minded peers. We also encourage our learners to explore external sports clubs and societies. Our clubs meet regularly throughout the year. They are predominantly learner-led, providing a great opportunity to develop leadership skills. Our website includes a list of potential extracurricular activities for learners for different interest and passions, these can be found here: https://www.uctonlinehighschool.com/learner-experience
What are the benefits of an online school besides remote learning?
Having a larger pool of friends and being connected to the globe, with learners from across Africa and other continents, your network of friends is global and not limited to a group of children living around your neighbourhood. You are exposed to other worldviews and will be far more technologically astute that peers in a brick-and-mortar environment.
For anyone outside of receiving a scholarship, how much can parents expect to pay for school fees?
The monthly fee is R2095 per month – one of the most affordable private school options in the country. A fee of R200 is payable when you submit your application form. This fee covers our administrative costs and is non-refundable.
Do you feel that this is the direction that the education system is heading towards? And how beneficial will it be to the youth of South Africa?
Absolutely, the benefits are immeasurable, infusing the skills of the future in core curriculum is the reason we have corporate partners wanting to provide scholarships to UCT Online High School learners as they believe that they will embody 21st Century skills that their businesses will need in the near future. There are so many business opportunities online, the online environment flattens the world and makes it easy for people to connect and work together from across the globe. Skills required in the 4th Industrial Revolution are online and that is the opportunity this offering presents, we are cultivating skills of the future at scale.
With the inconsistency of loadshedding that’s impacting SA on a large scale, how will the UCT online high school prepare for this challenge?
It is unfortunate that as a country, we are having to battle basic service delivery issues such as power supply in a country so desperately needing to attract foreign direct investments and improve the economy. Loadshedding has had a devastating impact on the economy and continues to for all sectors of the economy. We are encouraging parents to invest in UPS Systems as the only effective solution we have for now.
How will the UCT online high school prepare learners for university?
We have an amazing Student Success Team whose sole responsibility is to assist learners with the right subject selection given their capabilities and aspirations, this team also keeps them on track to ensure they retain a certain level of performance in order to qualify for entry into the respective study streams they want to go into in university. So, it’s a very involved process, and we host career advise sessions and fireside chats with Professors and Captains of Industry to give learners a view of what lies ahead.
Would the transition for learners be difficult from an online environment in high school to a potential in-person experience at university?
It shouldn’t be, but it will require some getting used to as the setup is totally different, but that is what life is about, adjustments. I have no doubt that they will be able to adjust, the same way most of them came from brick-and-mortar primary schools and adjusted into an online high school environment, they will again build the muscle to adjust back to in-person university spaces, which are also mostly online these days.
How can an online school help cultivate emotional intelligence, or which methods are in place to still evoke that human ‘in person’ level?
To be human is to be connected to other humans, to interact and learn about human nuance and intricacy. We value this as a school and will work very closely with our parents to ensure that they facilitate the casual meetups, group work gatherings and we also encourage all parents to sign up their children in at least two physical extramural activities in their area to keep them healthy and connected to peers. We have virtual clubs where learners will be able to hangout and connect outside of academic time. We will always need other humans and the ability to work in groups and interact in integral part of our offering.
Will the scholarship cover internet and other necessary devices? If it’s a kid from a disadvantaged background who’s to say they will have access to these things?
This will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis – the key requirement for the Sanlam UCT Online High School Scholarship programme is for ambitious, motivated and academically talented grade 7, 8 or 9 learners from previously disadvantaged families. Once accepted to the programme, the admissions team will conclude each learner’s situation separately and support where necessary, and possible.
Is the scholarship aimed at students from disadvantaged backgrounds?
Yes – The applicant must come from a historically disadvantaged South African family and be African, Coloured or Indian/Asian. The learner is also required to be a South African citizen. The opportunity aims to offer these learners, who may otherwise not have had the chance to realise their potential, with 100% of their high school tuition over a five-year period – an investment of R14.5 million from Sanlam.
Once the student has received the scholarship, what would the next steps be?
The learners that applied for the Scholarship before the 17th of November (the deadline closes today!), would be notified via email post the deadline date if they were successfully shortlisted for the program. Those that were not shortlisted would also be notified that they didn’t make the selection process for various reason. More info is available here: https://www.uctonlinehighschool.com/sanlam-scholarships
What is the scholarship process (i.e interviews, assessments, etc)?
The Sanlam UCT Online High School Scholarship application process is online – learners and parents need to submit the relevant documents, upload a video interview, and complete an online Maths and English language test in order to be considered as shortlisted candidates. Parents and learners need to apply before midnight tonight before the deadline closes!
Once shortlisted, there will be a conditional scholarship offer in order for the application to move to the next phase. After accepting the conditional scholarship offer, they will need to submit their birth certificates and term 2 school report for their current grade of study. After document verification, learners will be officially welcomed into UCT Online High School – and begin the pre-orientation phase. The final step will be to submit their current grade of study report, and then final acceptance of the scholarship letter and they will start their new school year in their respective Grade in January 2022. More information on the scholarship process can be found here: https://www.uctonlinehighschool.com/sanlam-scholarships