Teneo Online School recently conducted a survey to determine how perceptions of online schooling in South Africa have changed after digital learning became the only schooling option during lockdown.
Image source: August de Richelieu from Pexels
Even prior to the pandemic, online schools had their fair share of critics among South Africans, but this perception drastically changed due to the lockdowns and increased isolation. So, was this purely a short-term solution for parents during the pandemic?
An analysis of the enrolment data from Teneo Online School says otherwise: these learners have switched for the long-term and most plan to finish their school experience online. The ‘real school online’ has grown by 10,488% in over five years, from 85 learners when it was founded in 2018 to 9,000 learners today and counting, since enrolments are always open.
“The data clearly indicates that both parents and learners who initially were not convinced merely needed to see it to believe it. Now that they have seen how convenient, yet brilliant quality online school is, they are more open to considering it,” says John Shaw, CEO of Teneo Online School.
Five survey insights worth noting
- 94% of the sample indicated that online school is better value for money in comparison with traditional, brick-and-mortar schools. For example, those who wish to do an international curriculum, such as Independent Examinations Board (IEB), often need to fork out more money for a private school. There is also no need to spend money on school uniforms or transport costs – if you have access to a digital device and high-speed internet, you are good to go.
- 95% of the sample agreed that they would consider online school for their children if the children agreed to trying it.
- 97% of the sample indicated that online school encourages autonomy in children which is good for their development. Since structure and routine are important for learners, Teneo operates on a mostly synchronous (live) basis where learners are expected to be live in class in accordance with their timetables (just as they would at a physical school). However, there are students who benefit greatly using the asynchronous (recorded) model where they learn using pre-recorded lessons and at their own pace – a great option for those pursuing other interests in the daytime, such as aspiring professional sportsmen.
- 80% of the sample would consider their children swapping from the South African curriculum to an international one, such as Pearson Edexcel British International or IEB. 20% believe the National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) alone will suffice.
- Only 7% of the sample believe that all online schools are the same, the remaining 93% believe that selecting the right online school for your child is important. This is a critical insight since there are many online schools offering different things, so it is essential that you consider what the best option for your child would be. Parents should consider the type of school suitable to their child, the amount of live interaction the child will receive (ratio of live versus recorded), look at the learner management system and how it operates and confirm that the school in question uses quality, SACE-registered teachers.
Shaw founded the school long before the pandemic because he saw how efficient online schools were internationally, and making this mainstream in South Africa would address many educational challenges, like removing area codes as a criterion for schools.