• Online learning a safe haven amid COVID-19 siege on SA’s academic year

Media release

Online learning a safe haven amid COVID-19 siege on SA’s academic year

14 July 2020

South Africa’s coronavirus infections are increasing by around 12 000 daily, exerting massive pressure on the public and private health sectors to arrest the runaway figures.

Infections in South Africa have this week sped past 287 000 and President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a new set of interventions, which include a night-time curfew and a ban on the sale of alcohol.

However, schools remain open and additional grades are set to return to schools, sparking anxiety among parents and threats from sections opposed to the reopening of schools amid the pandemic.

Since the reopening of schools for selected grades, several schools across the country have had to temporarily close and decontaminate after numerous cases of COVID-19 were confirmed.

An unprecedented number of parents are experimenting with home schooling despite warnings from experts about the pitfalls. Numerous schools and universities in South Africa have embraced online learning, but the cost of data is cited as a major hurdle in the new revolution of virtual learning.

Promoted as South Africa’s first virtual school and offering both the CAPS and British International curricula from Grade R to Grade 12, Think Digital Academy, headquartered in Pretoria, has been offering online classes to thousands of learners across the country for several years, even before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Think Digital Academy’s chief executive, Janessa Urquhart, a campaigner for e-learning, believes contact-less education has always been inevitable in South Africa and the rising COVID-19 infection figures indicate that the schooling system will be disrupted significantly as more court challenges loom over the physical reopening of schools and more parents opt to keep their children at home, fearing coronavirus infections.

“There are signs suggesting that COVID-19’s disruption of the education sector could have a lasting impact on the way we teach and learn.

“Our current education model is very much top-down in its approach, where a teacher instructs and provides information, usually only utilising one teaching modality.

“Yet educational psychologists have always contended that children learned best when they constructed their own knowledge and learnt tasks that are culturally relevant,” she said.

“The spread of COVID-19, and the closure of schools has become a catalyst for change, forcing us to look for innovative ways for our children to continue their schooling.

“Educationalists, government and the business sector have come together to utilie digital platforms for teaching and learning. These platforms are opening the doors to more flexible and interactive ways of learning, where the learner takes ownership of their educational experience, working at their own pace and engaging with the learning material.”

She said South Africa’s education sector has been ripe for change and now needs to quickly adapt to the rapidly changing circumstances.

“Instead of looking for stop-gap solutions, let’s consider how education in this country can benefit from these changes in the long run.

“Can we change how we curate content in a way that benefits both visual and auditory learners? How do we make lessons more engaging so that even learners with concentration challenges remain engrossed and involved in their learning?

“And most importantly, how do we close the digital divide in our country,” said Urquhart.

“The use of digital platforms to replace the classroom means that the quality of learning is dependent on the level and quality of digital access.

“Unless data costs decrease and access to digital platforms increases, a vast number of our learners will not be able to benefit from this educational paradigm shift.”

Some parents, education stakeholders and principals have amplified calls for the Department of Basic Education to reconsider the decision to reopen schools.

Published in IOL – Online learning a safe haven amid COVID-19 siege on SA’s academic year

There’s more to explore

If you would like to learn more about us, please feel free to make use of the extra resources that we have created about online schooling just for you.



Customer Reviews

Sarabibi Varachia

I love that there is an option of tutor support, and that it can be done at my own pace, the free 14 day trial gives a good idea of the course before signing up.

Janine Gouws

My daughter has gone from strength to strength since joining Think Digital Academy. She is now so used to taking notes after watching and reading through the material that she has taken comprehensive notes during her Zoom swimming sessions and is able to explain everything that she has learnt easily from her notes. This is a child who really battled in the conventional schooling system and has undergone a tremendous change since joining Think Digital Academy. Thank you to the Think Digital Team you truly are a spectacular team 😁

Neldie VdMerwe Viljoen

It was the best decision to enroll my grade 10 and 12 kids here. They can't get enough of the interesting lessons. The people are so pleasant and always help with kindness, no matter how many times you call to ask for help. You are the BEST!!!!

Judy-anne Naude

Love the platform, very user friendly.

Annie Andrews

My boys are very much enjoying this. And I love that you can do this anywhere. We take our ipads to the park, and we work from there. I love it!

Bob Howard

TDA is by far the best home schooling platform in South Africa. As a digital home school, I as a student can be anywhere, literally, and do my work. My marks have gone up, I no longer have to travel 2 hours a day and I am much more focused on school work.

Michelle Ferreira

The best. My kids love it!

Lorinda Everson

Love them!! They allow children to be children!!

Kharmen Wicks

Great home school option - we had a great experience last year during Covid lockdown. Our matric daughter passed with a university exemption - we were very happy with the support she received while she was doing her online studies with them - thank you Think Digital!!!

Stephanie Hibbert

We did the 2 week trial and my son loved it. We've now paid for it and he sits for an hr at a time and does his work im very happy with how much he enjoys this program.