Ian Strydom, managing director of Wingu Academy
South Africa has seen a surge of online schools opening in response to the Covic-19 pandemic. Some online schools were already established pre-pandemic due to a natural growth in the home education market inherent in the country, whilst others developed in response to the perceived demand in the market for online schooling.
In the US, online schools have been well attended for a few decades already and have seen mature and well-developed online schools emerge as viable and important alternatives for numerous students across the states. Pre-pandemic there were over 375,000 students between the ages of 6 and 18 attending state-wide full-time online school programmes, a number that has almost doubled for the 2021–2022 school year in the US.
In South Africa, the numbers are not that clear and pre-pandemic estimates of 100,000 homeschoolers have increased dramatically to more than 300,000 according to the Department of Education. Mosibudi-Makhubela has previously indicated that up to 4% of learners can be home educated in South Africa. The director also expressed that the GDE is very interested in doing research to learn more about home-based education and to improve on assessment and curriculum provision in Gauteng, especially for home education.
With the growth in the interest in home-based education, accelerated by the pandemic, many online schools have emerged. At the meeting on 2 June it became evident that clearer guidelines and frameworks are required to establish a minimum standard to ensure that all learners get the best possible education from homeschooling providers and online schools. The different curriculum providers and homeschooling providers present at the meeting had varying levels of maturity of internal processes, curriculum delivery, and assessment structures.
Wingu Academy was encouraged to see that our processes and standards are high and aligned to policy and guidelines available and we are excited to share what we have found to be effective in our approach to online distance learning. Wingu Academy is formally inviting collaboration with national and local departments of education and wishes to support the core values that Director Mosibudi-Makhubela shared at the meeting of “excellence, compliance and relationship building”.
Wingu Academy is optimistic and welcomes the pending regulatory framework to be approved by the end of October 2022, and the opportunity to forge a strong relationship with the GDE. “At the meeting, Wingu Academy extended an offer to support the Gauteng Department of Education with our in-house expertise in curriculum mapping to assist with smoother transitioning of students between International and the Caps curriculum to make it more accessible for students to transfer between home education and public or independent schools where needed,” explains Ian Strydom, managing director of Wingu Academy.
“Wingu Academy has been applying the policy on home education and has simultaneously aligned all internal processes and quality assurance measures with the local and international requirements of traditional independent schools, and are ready to adopt any further recommendations by the Department of Education. The Academy is registered with the South African Comprehensive Assessments Institute (SACAI) as a distance education provider for the Caps programme it is currently offering, and is a registered Pearson Online Centre for the International British Curriculum. The Academy is also finalising the registration of an independent school in its network awaiting final feedback from the local department of education and as such has comprehensive alignment with the available guidelines from the Department of Basic Education,” Strydom concludes.