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UCT Online, Human Rights Commission Bring Education To Rural KwaZulu-Natal

THE South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the University of Cape Town’s (UCT’s) Online High School have partnered on an initiative to accelerate access to online learning in underprivileged communities, particularly girl children in rural areas.

In July, UCT unveiled its online high school, saying it is the first university in Africa to extend its expertise to the secondary schooling market through an online modality.

In its pilot phase, set to be introduced in the 2022 school calendar, the collaboration with SAHRC will initially focus on the communities of the Valley of 1 000 Hills, about 50km North West of Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal, according to a statement.

The Valley of 1 000 Hills has a high level of poverty, with a 48%-50% unemployment rate, and limited access to quality education for the large majority.

It is this fragile ecosystem that contributes to the general under-nourishment, poor health, and emotional and physical insecurities plaguing children in the area.

The pilot phase of this partnership, according to the organisations, will provide resources and facilitate access to a quality online high school education through the UCT Online High School for up to 14 students in the Valley of 1 000 Hills.

“The UCT Online High School’s mission is to create new opportunities for learners throughout South Africa to choose an aspirational school regardless of their circumstances,” says professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, UCT vice-chancellor.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the SAHRC on this important initiative to level the playing field with an innovative education model, and create access to high-quality schooling for all.”

The online high school offers a National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement-aligned curriculum, and enables learners in grades eight to 12 in any corner of the globe with the opportunity to study remotely.

The partnership forms part of the SAHRC UCT Online High School Rural Initiative, which has a mission to promote equal access to basic education (particularly for the girl child); provide advocacy for online education; advocate for policy and legislative changes to promote online education; and ensure the most vulnerable are not left behind in the migration to online education, according to SAHRC.

Learners have full access to resources and a self-paced curriculum where they can progress at their own pace through interactive notes, videos, animations, simulations, practise assignments, and quizzes. Pupils will be issued a learner number to save their unique learning path and data, with unlimited logins permitted.

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