Homeschooling in SA and the changed learner profile

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The lockdown is easing and many schools are fully open again, but there’s no doubt that the year 2020 has been a watershed moment regarding the adoption of home education in South Africa.

At Impaq — South Africa’s leading and biggest home education provider — we’ve seen thousands of new learners sign up with us this year in their bid to achieve more structured learning at home.

As a result, we have a wider array of homeschoolers now than ever before. In light of this, we’ve listed three types of homeschoolers that have emerged in South Africa this year.

Crisis homeschooler

As the hard lockdown started and schools nationwide were shut; many parents had to take aspects of their children’s education into their own hands. While many teachers tried to adapt to online education, the reality is that this wasn’t the core competency of many schools. Teachers had to brush up on online teaching skills and even use some technology for the first time ever.

While many teachers adapted, this still made for challenging times. As a result, many parents and learners looked towards companies that specialise in distance learning in order to receive the quality education they required.

At Impaq, we’ve been using the latest guided and distance learning technology tools for many years, and we also have a tutor network across the country. In this crisis, we saw many parents make a switch to our homeschooling offerings in their search for more structured learning in the home environment.

For learners in their final school years of Grade 11 or Grade 12, we also saw many parents become concerned about whether their children may struggle to catch up with their studies in preparation for their final exams.

Furthermore, when schools started opening during the peak of the pandemic, there were many families who were concerned about contracting Covid-19, especially those with comorbidities or other underlying conditions. For these families, this crisis meant that they had no choice but to switch.

More cost-conscious families

In addition to the health crisis, families globally had to deal with an economic crisis this year.

Amid this backdrop, many parents who have traditionally sent their children to private schools have found that they’ve had to look at more affordable options while maintaining a high level of education for their children.

The likes of Impaq have filled this gap owing to our strong reputation and experience in the market. Furthermore, we follow a CAPS-aligned curriculum, which means a child can easily re-enter a traditional school at any point again.

Permanent adopter

At Impaq, we’ve seen many early adopters over the years.

But this year, many families have become permanent adopters. These families have come to appreciate the individual attention their children receive as well as the flexibility that comes with this form of learning.

In addition, many parents – who previously never considered distance learning – have come to prefer this route for their children, and they are now embracing homeschooling for the long term.

This trend has been reflected in our numbers of learners, which have grown dramatically from 19 000 at the beginning of this year to over 24 000.

We cannot predict what will happen next in the education landscape as the impact of the pandemic continues to unfold. However, what is clear is that alternatives, such as structured home education, exist and have already helped fill the gap for thousands of children this year.

We believe that this trend will continue, and we’re here to help parents and learners make the switch if they need to.

By: Louise Schoonwinkel, MD of Optimi Home

Impaq, which forms part of the Optimi Group, is South Africa’s largest home education provider. It provides a comprehensive set of educational products based on a CAPS-aligned home education curriculum for Grades R to 12.