South Africa: Online Learning to the Rescue


One of the potentially positive consequences of the Covid-19 crisis, and the lockdown that has followed it, is that we have to come up with better ways of doing things. This is likely to happen in education, and an incoming large-scale investment in online education is almost a certainty, resulting in greater capacity with more young people having access to education.

Over the past 10 years, South Africa has sometimes given the impression of sleeping through a series of crises. Almost half of the young people who enter the schooling system in Grade 1 fall out of it before matric. In the higher education segment, the problem of students failing their first year has become chronic. University vice-chancellors have spoken of how unethical it is that someone can fail first-year several times, and so take space from next generations.

From time to time there are huge disputes over the entry criteria for medical schools, as young people with seven or eight distinctions are not accepted for a place. Considering the crying need for doctors (there is plenty of evidence that we need more), this is a major problem. While there are obvious limitations on the number of people who can...

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