University of Cape Town: Adult matric studies and Cambridge levels now in reach with UCT Online High School

It is never too late to create a better future for yourself. This is the sentiment of UCT Online High School’s principal and director, Yandiswa Xhakaza, as the school announced a broadening of its services that will bring matric education in reach of many adults and an affordable international high school qualification to children in Africa.

A year since the launch of the school, Xhakaza believes they can help both adults and young people to change the course of their lives by completing their high school education.

UCT Online High School, a partnership of the University of Cape Town (UCT) and South African education technology company Valenture Institute, recently launched two new additions to the school’s offering for next year: an adult matric programme and the roll-out of Africa’s most affordable Cambridge International curriculum qualification.

Adult matric

Drawing attention to the nationwide need for adult matric learning facilities, Xhakaza pointed out that almost a third of all people working towards their matric certificate do so outside of the full-time in-school system.

“Our online adult matric programme will provide a second chance to those who were unable, or who were never afforded the opportunity, to write their national senior certificate when they were young. The programme will be entirely online and part-time, making it easy for adults who might be working. It is going to cost R2 195 a month for a 12-month period and we do have a finance solution available to bring down the monthly payments,” said Xhakaza.



“A matric certificate can transform young and old people’s futures alike.”

UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng echoed the need to support and provide learning opportunities to adults aiming to complete their matric.

“As second chances, the educational journeys of these non-traditional learners often go unrecognised. Despite their grit and perseverance, second-chance matrics are rarely reported on publicly. We are here to celebrate and support these learners. A matric certificate can transform young and old people’s futures alike by signalling their knowledge and skills to employers, creating pathways to further education, and ultimately improving their chances of finding work, keeping a job and earning a high salary,” said Professor Phakeng in a video announcement.

Cambridge International curriculum

Phakeng also announced the addition of a Cambridge International curriculum, which will make UCT Online High School the most affordable fully accredited Cambridge International school in Africa. The fees are expected to be R3 300 a month.

She highlighted the global access a Cambridge International high school qualification affords learners.

“Cambridge International is one of the world’s most prestigious international curricula, recognised by over 2 000 tertiary institutions worldwide, including all major local universities. With nearly 1 million students in 10 000 schools in 160 countries, a Cambridge International qualification is a powerful global passport to the future,” she said.

Tessa Venter, a Cambridge academic consultant, said the Cambridge International qualifications give learners eligibility to apply to any university in the United Kingdom, over 800 universities in the United States, all major tertiary institutions in South Africa and many other destinations including Canada, Australia, Singapore, Germany and the Netherlands.



“The curriculum is heavily researched, academically focused and one that is renowned for higher-order thinking skills.”

“A Cambridge International qualification is an academic passport to [a] brighter, global future for many aspiring young Africans … Our Cambridge International and adult matric will be completely separate, independent offerings that fall under the UCT Online High School umbrella. There will be little to no impact on learners working towards their South African national senior certificate. We are busy onboarding new staff for these additional offerings,” said Venter.

“More than 8 million learners write their Cambridge examinations every year. The curriculum is heavily researched, academically focused and one that is renowned for higher-order thinking skills. It takes a spiral approach to learning; a spiral curriculum is one in which there is constant revisiting of topics, subjects or themes throughout the entire course. It is not simply about the repetition of a topic taught, but it also requires a deepening of understanding every time a learner engages with that particular subject.”

Online high school learning can close education gulf

Phakeng said the UCT Online High School was started to contribute towards closing the high school and tertiary education gaps in South Africa.

“We live in two South Africas – the one South Africa is represented by the top 3% of schools. These schools are well resourced, and together they have more learners achieving distinctions in mathematics than the remaining 97% of high schools in South Africa combined.

“The other South Africa is represented by the majority of schools in our country where learners’ academic abilities can spend more than five grade levels in one class.



“Out of 100 children who start school, only six will achieve an undergraduate degree.”

“Out of 100 children who start school, only six will achieve an undergraduate degree. Sadly, the gulf between the two South Africas is widening. This is why we chose to change the face of education in South Africa forever by launching the UCT Online High School — the most affordable online private school in South Africa,” said Phakeng.

Last year, UCT Online High School received 13 000 applications and today educates around 5 000 learners. The school also gives access to an entire South African curriculum to thousands of individuals for free.

“We launched UCT Online High School’s free curriculum in partnership with the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. This entirely free online school platform allows any guardian, learner or educator to access our full CAPS [Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements] national senior certificate curriculum, because money should not be a barrier to those wanting to learn,” said Phakeng.

Through their scholarship programme in partnership with Sanlam, the school was also able to provide 90 learners with scholarships to cover 100% of their tuition fees for the CAPS curriculum for the duration of their studies.

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