Distance Educator, Brainline, has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement last night that all schools will close from Wednesday, 18 March 2020 until after the Easter holidays. This is part of government’s measures to clamp down on the spread of the coronavirus. Sixty-one cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in South Africa. Brainline Chief Executive Officer, Coleen Cronje, says it is, however, hoped that the measure will be short-lived.
‘We fully support and understand government’s decision to shut down schools in the interest of public safety. However, we hope that this is just a temporary measure and not something that will drag on indefinitely. We are cognisant of the fact that government has given the assurance that the time lost will be recuperated by means of a shorter winter school holiday; however, the education of hundreds of thousands of school learners are being disrupted,’ she says.
South Africa is not the only country in the world to resort to these drastic measures. Countries like the USA, Italy, China, the United Arab Emirates and Kenya have also announced school and university closures. More than 300 million learners have been affected worldwide.
Brainline students will, however, not be affected by the school closures, Cronje says.
‘In fact, it is school as usual and our virtual online classes continue uninterrupted. At the beginning of the year, we launched Brainline Cloud School, which offers weekly virtual online classes to our students. Presented by qualified teachers, the online classes give students a blend of both in-person and online instruction,’ Cronje explains.
She says the virtual classroom is a strong alternative to the traditional brick-and-mortar school option and more relevant than ever amid a crisis such as what we now experience due to the coronavirus.
‘While it is anticipated that government’s measures will effectively deal with the spread of the virus, it is important to consider and develop alternatives, especially when it comes to educational methods. We are fortunate that we were able to incorporate the latest technology in our curriculum and our students are now reaping the benefits,’ she says.
The virtual classes are complimentary and an added resource to the set curriculum, at no extra cost to the learner. Cronje says there are a number of positive elements associated with virtual or online classes such as the fact that learners can complete their schoolwork in a learning environment free from distractions. She says the students are also able to work according to their own pace.
‘Virtual classes allow learners to work through courses at the pace most comfortable to them. Online classes foster students that are able to take charge of their education and allow them the freedom to complete schoolwork on a schedule that fits their busy lives. So, whether your child is an athlete, performing artist, volunteer, or works, school is always open, and they can access their courses when they have the time.’
Cronje says the only area affected by the coronavirus preventative measures is the writing of exams.
‘Some of our students prefer to write their exams at our centres around the country. We have, however, informed them that due to the current circumstances, they will have to make use of our invigilation process for the time being. This process allows students to write exams under the supervision of a trustworthy person such as a parent or guardian.’
Brainline is IEB recognised, which means that learners follow the South African National Curriculum (similar to the curriculum offered in South African schools) resulting in the National Senior Certificate (NSC) upon successful completion of their matric exams.