After parents and students were forced to turn to online schools during the Covid-19 lockdown, many now prefer them to bricks-and-mortar schools. Here are a few of the reasons for the growth of virtual schools in South Africa.
Although online schools existed in South Africa before the country went into a Covid-19 lockdown, it’s undeniable that the pandemic brought them to the fore and allowed them to become mainstream options for schooling. Home schooling in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and all across South Africa has become more and more popular, with accredited courses online becoming a widely preferred way for students to matriculate.
Teneo Online School has experienced this rise in popularity. After starting with 85 students in 2018, the number of students increased to 5400 in 2020, the first year of the pandemic. By 2022 they had 9000 students and was registering 60 to 100 students per day for the 2023 academic year.
This makes Teneo one of the largest schools in the world and a pioneer in many regards. For example, Teneo has the widest subject choice in the country, provides schooling in two languages from Grade R to 12, and offers 100% live teaching by accredited professional teachers.
Two socio-economic factors driving the growth of online schools are semigration and concerns about the standard of education in government schools. Stats SA predicts that more than 620 000 people will move to the Western Cape in the next five years due to socio-economic reasons, and that 180000 of them will move to Hermanus. This clearly will create a problem of supply and demand, which is easily solved by online schools, with online school applications being open to a far greater volume of students.
A large percentage of government schools don’t provide the required standard of education, resulting in a huge skills gap in South Africa. Private schools are unaffordable for middle-class South Africans, and online schools have stepped into the gap by offering value for money education at more affordable fees.
Even without these practical reasons, there are four important reasons why parents and students are embracing online schools.
Quality of teaching
Class size frequently is a problem in South Africa’s government schools, something that isn’t a factor at reputable online schools. The level of personal attention is supported by the calibre of the teachers: all are registered with the South African Council for Educators (SACE) and are frequently asked to mark Matric’s final examination papers. This may be one of the reasons South Africa’s top matriculant for 2022 came from Teneo – for the second year in a row.
The school’s standard of education is the same as that of “normal” schools, if not higher. Matsipa, a Teneo parent, posted on HelloPeter: “It is an exceptional experience to be a part of Teneo. The teachers are patient, acknowledge every child’s individuality and provide good guidance whilst nurturing them to be the best possible versions of themselves. My son has learned to work independently navigating the system and has blossomed into a goal-orientated, confident, compassionate, competent young man.”
Preparing students for the demands of the workplace
Technology has become part and parcel of corporate and similar professional jobs. The best onlines schools prepare students for this by making them comfortable with receiving instruction and delivering work online. It also teaches them how to act in a professional manner with superiors (teachers) and peers (classmates).
Thanks to technology, eschools can record and pre-record lessons so that students can go over them as many times as they need to when doing revision. Pre-recorded lessons also form the backbone of Teneo’s Live + Recorded School which gives students the flexibility to learn at times that suit them.
This provides good learning ground for work where online meetings and webinars are commonplace, and time management is a vital soft skill.
Working from home during the Covid pandemic has shown many people the benefits of being able to manage their days around their own priorities. It is no different for students.
Teneo’s Live and Recorded School Format is a good example of an online school that offers those who are pursuing other personal goals the flexibility they need. This hybrid model combines live and pre-recorded lessons to allow students to participate in scheduled live lessons according to a daily timetable, and for the other half of the day’s coursework, watch pre-recorded lessons. All live lessons are recorded to revisit later.
(Teneo’s Live School Format has a daily programme of live lessons, just like a conventional school, for those who prefer more structure.) All live lessons are recorded to revisit later.
Value for money
A 2022 analysis of enrolment data at Teneo Online School found that 94% of parents felt that online schooling provides better value for money than traditional bricks-and-mortar schools.
Government schools’ fees, although affordable, aren’t all-inclusive and parents have to buy uniforms and stationery out of their own pocket, and pay for things like transport, outings and meals. Several of these additional expenses don’t apply in an online school.
The combination of live teaching and technology is helping online schools to become mainstream. For those who want to study online, South Africa is ahead of the curve with this offering. Here’s how Teneo applies this two-pronged approach for the benefit of all students.
All schools are using technology in one form or another. The only difference between an online school and a traditional bricks-and-mortar school is that online or eschools teach through technology while traditional schools teach with technology.
This is an important distinction when it comes to preparing students for life as a tertiary student and for the modern workplace.
How Teneo uses technology
For starters, all lessons are made available to students as recordings. The Teneo Live classes follow a timetable and are presented live by a professional teacher whereafter recordings are distributed. The option of Live + Recorded School Format follows a hybrid approach and combines prerecorded lessons for “attending” any time with live classes where students can ask questions and get teacher support.
In a 2023 poll among students, 83% said that they use the recordings because they make it easier to take notes and allow them to revise the work and go over topics they struggle with. Several also indicated that they like the fact that they can view the recordings as slow – or as fast – as they want. Overall, this technology makes for a better online learning experience for a variety of reasons.
The role of teachers in a tech-based online school
Technology will never replace teachers. Instead, it enhances the teaching experience. Think of a typical classroom in a traditional school where students at the front can see a science experiment from close up and therefore benefit more than those at the back. In an online class, there aren’t any back rows; everyone is in the front row, in front of their computer screen, and the student’s experience with online learning is inclusive and engaging.
Teneo’s teachers use technology as a tool to enhance the online learning experience for students by, for instance, adding music and playing videos in slow motion or using replays.
Each of Teneo’s nearly 500 teachers has the same responsibility as a teacher at any other school: to facilitate students’ academic journeys and help them to complete it successfully. As such, their duties are to:
- Create and present accurate and informative content
- Provide guidance and support to students and parents
- Track academic progress
- Evaluate student work
- Communicate regularly with students
- Participate in regular training and professional development
- Be available for parent-teacher meetings
Using technology to help struggling students
Parents are encouraged to monitor attendance and track assignment and test scores to ensure students stay on track with their studies. There are extra curricular programmes for struggling students to assist their classroom learning with our carefully selected external partners, such as Reflective Learning and Eye Brain Gym. Tutors also help to close learning gaps if students need to catch up in certain areas.
“Our strengths lie in our ability to track participation via all the data we have on students’ class attendance and marks. Parents have the ability to monitor the participation and results of their child and allows the parent and student to take proactive steps to help improve,” says Academic Lead, Paula van Berkel.
Why students enjoy learning through technology
When Teneo asked parents of their students, 97% agreed that experience with online learning helps children to become more autonomous. This is especially true of those students who are using recorded lessons and following a flexible timetable that gives them more time for other pursuits and passions like sport or theatre or even a small business or part-time job.
Claude, a parent of one of our students, wrote on HelloPeter: “My son has flourished personally and academically. The teaching methods have taught him time-management skills, self-discipline and the importance of research. In addition, he’s learnt to deal with challenges out of his control and taking accountability for it such as his internet connection and loadshedding issues by ensuring that he communicates such issues with his teachers and the support team on time. Thank you to all for contributing to my son’s education and development.”
Children with learning difficulties appreciate the recorded lessons provided by Teneo, as do those with ADHD. Learners coming from traditional schools where they were bullied or made to feel deeply anxious by classmates or even teachers take comfort in the online space where they feel safe.
Teachers vs tech when it comes to setting and marking exam papers
Teneo’s teachers set all exam papers and mark them. Like live teaching, this is crucial for tracking students’ academic progress and identifying problem areas or students who may be falling behind.
It’s essential that the teacher who teaches a specific subject and class sets the paper. Their knowledge of the curriculum, subject and students allows them to set the exam at the right level and to reflect what the students have been taught. In a country such as South Africa, it also is important to take students’ lived realities into account and use examples or situations that they are familiar with when setting a test or exam.
Let’s journey into the realm of accomplishment as we applaud Chelsea Wedderburn, an extraordinary Grade 11 student, for leaving an indelible mark on the global stage!
We’re elated to share the news that Chelsea dazzled the international dance community with her exceptional performance at the Dance Star World Masters in Croatia, held from May 12th to 23rd, 2023.
Amidst the bustling arena of the B league, where dancers from 17 countries and a staggering 5000 participants converged in Croatia’s enchanting city of Porec, Chelsea’s performances evoked awe and admiration.
Her dedication and innate talent took center stage as she clinched a remarkable 5th place in the fiercely competitive Senior Lyrical Solo category, surpassing 35 talented competitors. Furthermore, Chelsea ascended to the pinnacle, securing 1st place in the Senior Acrobatic Solo category, triumphing over 13 formidable contestants.
The pursuit of knowledge need not be confined to the four walls of a classroom. Engaging in extracurricular activities, such as joining a club like Girl Guides, offers a wonderful opportunity to expand one’s horizons. It’s a chance to forge new friendships, acquire useful skills, and partake in thrilling escapades like camping and river rafting – experiences that go beyond textbooks and enrich life’s tapestry.
Lisa Bottcher, a Year 8 British International Teneo student, serves as an inspiration. She has firsthand knowledge of the profound enrichment that lies beyond the confines of traditional education. The virtual classroom may conclude for the day, but the opportunity for growth and exploration with the Girl Guides is just beginning for her.
Why not step out of your comfort zone after the lessons conclude? Embrace new challenges, cultivate friendships, and make memories that will last a lifetime. Your post-class hours can become a canvas for creativity and growth.
Share your post-class endeavours with us! We eagerly anticipate witnessing the remarkable journeys our students embark upon.
In the realm of modern education, the Motsie family has discovered a transformational shift through Teneo’s Live classroom format. The narrative of Xaedon and Xara, their twins, unfolds as a testament to the effectiveness of this innovative schooling approach.
With Teneo’s new offering, their educational journey has taken an exciting turn. Through a blend of real-time classes and cutting-edge technology, the twins have found a platform that nurtures their growth and development. The convergence of traditional learning and digital integration has propelled their academic progress.
In the words of Bianca Motsie, the impact of live classes is profound: “I truly appreciate the live classes. You get to interact with other students and teachers, LIVE. You also get lesson recordings in case you missed out on anything for any particular reason.” This seamless fusion of connectivity and flexibility ensures that no learning opportunity is missed, empowering students to take ownership of their education.
As Teneo stands as a supportive partner in their educational journey, the Motsie family’s twins flourish. The growth and success witnessed in Xaedon and Xara are a testament to live online classes.
For parents seeking a holistic and tailored approach to their child’s education, Teneo’s Live lessons emerge as an ideal solution. With its focus on interaction, personalisation, and real-time engagement, it paves the way for comprehensive growth. Consider this transformative educational experience for your child’s future success!
We are thrilled to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Sydney Lombard, a dedicated Grade 10 student at Teneo. In the vibrant setting of the Christian Schools Championships in Sasolburg in 2022, Sydney’s remarkable achievements came to the forefront.
Sydney’s participation in the competition was nothing short of impressive, as she showcased her athletic prowess in various events. Notably, she secured an admirable 3rd and 4th place in the following categories:
Girls U15 Hammer Throw
Girls U15 Javelin Throw
Girls U15 Discus Throw
Sydney’s dedication and hard work have truly paid off, earning her well-deserved recognition in these challenging events.
The Teneo family is incredibly proud of your achievements, Sydney. Your commitment to both academics and athletics is inspiring to us all.
At Teneo, we believe in nurturing excellence not only in the classroom but also on the fields and arenas of passion. You can achieve your biggest dreams while receiving a top-quality education.
There’s something truly special about coming together, and at Teneo, that’s a sentiment we hold dear. The bonds of friendship formed within the Teneo community are something we cherish and encourage among all of our students, and this was beautifully showcased during a recent gathering in Cape Town. Our students know how to take picnicking to a whole new level, blending camaraderie and style effortlessly under the sun!
From laughter to shared stories, the power of these Teneo friendships was clear throughout the day. It was a day of fun, friendship, joy, and a reminder that beyond the virtual classrooms, a vibrant world of connection and shared experiences awaits.
Calling all Teneo students across the nation – it’s time to create your own unforgettable moments! Assemble your squad, find a picturesque spot, and let the memories unfold. Capture the joy, the laughter, and the genuine connections that make Teneo more than just an educational institution. Remember to tag us in your snapshots – we can’t wait to be a part of your journey and celebrate the essence of togetherness.