Just last year, the notion of online learning was considered taboo by most parents as pupils relied primarily on traditional physical classes before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In unprecedented circumstances, the South African government imposed a hard lockdown in March last year, forcing learners to stay home as the Covid-19 death toll surged.
Education expert and prominent campaigner for virtual learning Janessa Leita said as the sceptical parents were left with no options, virtual learning was introduced to many South African children – and many have remained on that path even when traditional schools reopened in the revised lockdown.
“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which even now has not been eradicated, the school calendar still remains under threat. From time to time adjustments to the lockdown have been made, and the new regulations introduced, but one cannot say we are certain there won’t be further interruptions to the school year,” said Leita.
“It is paramount for parents to keep their options open, and at all costs ensure that their children’s education is not disrupted – even as many other activities come to a standstill. Covid-19 is a reality we now live in.”
As South Africa last week marked a year since the lockdown was imposed by President Cyril Ramaphosa to curb the spread of Covid-19, Leita said virtual learning was one of the few services that went uninterrupted.
“We have more reasons now, as a country and the world, to permanently migrate to virtual, online teaching and learning. The academic year really suffered last year, in 2020. Going into the Easter holiday, the South African government has announced some changes to avoid an outbreak during the holiday. In all this, education has to continue amidst all the uncertainty,” said Leita.
“Education is a fundamental right that we should uphold at all times. If we do not adapt to virtual learning now as a long-term solution, like other countries in Africa and the world, we run the risk of raising an uneducated generation.”
Leita founded the Think Digital Academy back in 2016, which was last year awarded the globally acclaimed Corporate Livewire SA Prestige Award for 2020/2021 in the category of Virtual School of the Year. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the virtual school has now spread from South Africa into the United States.
“We provide the CAPS and British international curricula from Grade R to 12 or the advanced level in the Cambridge curriculum, in an integrated, engaging and effective way to our rising number of learners,” said Leita.
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