/ 24 January 2024

The accessibility of online schools for South African learners


Online schooling prepares learners for the digital and virtual work environment

Online schooling has proven to be a transformative force, breaking down barriers and fostering accessibility for learners worldwide. In the context of South Africa, where traditional education faces unique challenges, the advent of online schools becomes particularly significant. This article delves into the multifaceted advantages of online education for South African learners, exploring how it addresses issues of accessibility, flexibility and diverse course offerings.

How online education came to be

Online education emerged as a response to the growing need for flexible and accessible learning methods. The roots of online education can be traced back to the 1960s, with the advent of computer technology. Early experiments involved connecting computers to share resources and information across distances. However, it wasn’t until the 1990s and the widespread availability of the internet that online education truly began to take shape.

The development of Learning Management Systems (LMS) in the late 1990s provided a platform for educators to deliver content and assessments online. The 2000s saw the rise of fully online universities and institutions, breaking away from the traditional brick-and-mortar model. Technological advancements, increased internet accessibility, and the recognition of the potential for democratising education all contributed to the growth of online schooling.

The 21st century brought about innovations like Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), offering free or affordable courses to a global audience. The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 further accelerated the adoption of online education, as schools and universities worldwide had to pivot quickly to remote learning. Today, online education continues to evolve, leveraging technology to enhance accessibility, flexibility and the overall quality of the learning experience.

While most online schools in South Africa started in 2020 due to the pandemic, some online schools such as CambriLearn started long before, ensuring that their systems and methods are already fully realised. 


The problem that online learning is solving 

Online schooling significantly addresses the fundamental problem of accessibility to high-quality education by breaking down geographical barriers and providing learning opportunities for diverse individuals. 

One key aspect is the removal of physical distance constraints. Through online platforms, learners can access educational resources and courses from anywhere in the world, overcoming limitations associated with the proximity of traditional institutions.

Moreover, online schooling democratises education by offering flexibility in scheduling. Learners, regardless of their location or time zone, can engage with course materials at their own pace. This adaptability caters to different learning styles and accommodates individuals with varied personal and professional commitments, ensuring that education is accessible to those who might otherwise struggle to attend traditional classes.

The diverse range of courses available online also contributes to accessibility. Online platforms often offer specialised subjects and niche topics, expanding the spectrum of educational options beyond what may be available in local institutions. This inclusivity enables individuals to pursue specific interests or career paths that align with their goals.

In essence, online schooling transforms education into a global and flexible endeavour, eliminating the constraints imposed by physical boundaries. By doing so, it plays a pivotal role in making high-quality education accessible to a broader and more diverse population, fostering a more inclusive and equitable learning landscape.

Other advantages of online learning

Other than accessibility, online schooling addresses various challenges and provides solutions to issues associated with traditional education. Here are some of the other advantages of online learning. 

  • Inclusivity: online education can be more inclusive for people with physical disabilities or those who face challenges attending traditional classes. Virtual environments can be adapted to accommodate a variety of learning needs.
  • Global learning communities: online schooling connects learners and educators from around the world, fostering a global learning community. This exposure to diverse perspectives enhances the overall educational experience.
  • Reduced environmental impact: online schooling can contribute to a more sustainable and environmentally friendly education system by reducing the need for physical resources, commuting and the overall carbon footprint associated with traditional education.
  • Remote work preparation: as remote work becomes more prevalent, online schooling prepares learners for a digital and virtual work environment, teaching skills such as effective communication, time management and self-discipline.
  • Flexibility: online education provides flexibility in terms of scheduling. Learners can access course materials and complete assignments at their own pace, accommodating diverse learning styles and personal schedules.

To learn more about CambriLearn and how they approach online schooling in South Africa, click here