The Department of Basic Education has been in urgent consultation with online schools to strengthen their regulations so that they align with the current education system.
Online schools in South Africa have become more popular since the Covid-19 pandemic has brought about various challenges which has meant that students have not been able to get the time they need in the classroom.
The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has now consulted with virtual schools to ensure that they operate legally and that their policies align with the current education system.
The National Alliance of Independent Schools Associations (Naisa) says that a new framework is needed to provide policy direction on the establishment, registration and the accreditation and quality assurance of these schools.
Naisa says that online schools should strengthen their policy framework so that they may contribute towards the country’s goal of quality education for all.
Chief Executive Officer of Boston Online Home School, Ari Katz says that the rise of online schooling has came with the challenge of people starting their own online schools without being regulated to do so. Thus, he emphasizes that the government must provide a regulated environment for online schooling.
Kat says that there are also positive aspects to online schooling as this type of learning can be personalised to the needs of the learner.
We can map a learning path based on a student’s performance, their strengths and their weaknesses and we can tailor the assessment to the needs of the learner.
He says that as learners progress they can make the assessments more difficult and raise the level based on their performance. Kat says that all the resources available in the online environment can add value to the teaching and learning processes.
Kat says that a policy framework only exists for home education and not for the establishment of online schooling. He says that if a policy framework is put in place for online schooling then those who are engaging in home education can also make use of quality online resources to assist them in their teaching and learning.
He believes that more learners will have access to better education, stating:
I think this is an opportunity to democratize education so whereas previously the best of education might only have been available in most expensive private schools this through the technology is an opportunity to make those resources available to the entire country.
One of the challenges that comes with this is the lack of internet access and access to mobile data around the country.
He says that the regulations will ensure that the teachers who are employed at online schools are qualified for their job.
When the regulations and the policy framework are finalised, parents are advised to make sure that the online school they are enrolling their children adheres to these policies and regulations and that it is a credible institution.