UCT Online High School

A teenager’s perspective: Keemaya Naidoo’s online high school scholarship journey so far. Image: Supplied

A teenager’s perspective: Keemaya Naidoo’s online high school scholarship journey so far

UCT Online High School understands that learners are different. Keemaya is allowed to move ahead – as long as she has mastered the content.

UCT Online High School

A teenager’s perspective: Keemaya Naidoo’s online high school scholarship journey so far. Image: Supplied

I’m 15 years old and live in KwaZulu-Natal. I’d just moved schools in 2020 when Covid-19 hit. We were in and out of strict lockdowns, so it was a really chaotic time and I didn’t receive help from my teachers, nor did I have any textbooks. My parents therefore decided to enrol me at an online school. Online school is different but amazing. My family and I decided on the University of Cape Town (UCT) Online High School, which has a flexible learning model. It means that each learner can learn at their own pace – for example, those who struggle in a certain subject can take more time to focus on that. I learn quite fast and UCT Online High School understands that we’re all different, so I’m allowed to move ahead – as long as I’ve mastered the content and I’m doing well. Even though I work at my own pace, I’m given adequate support.

Some people may think that because we have a flexible learning model, we do what we want and fall behind, but the opposite is true. We’re given weekly deadlines, we get reminders from our homeroom teachers and our school system tells us if we haven’t submitted an assignment. The teachers (Learning Facilitators) check on us and regularly offer help.

My average day

My average day looks different, according to the season. In winter, it’s way too cold and dark to wake up early. I usually complete a morning routine before doing my work.

I wake up at around 6 am and make my bed, as I feel it sets the tone for the day and it’s already one thing accomplished. Then I have a shower, pray, have a good breakfast, brush my teeth, wash my face and get to my workspace at about 7:30 a.m. I often read first, as it relaxes me in the morning before school, which means I usually start school at 8 a.m. I end school at about 3 p.m but take regular breaks of about 20 minutes.

After school I do some chores, revise and then relax by dancing, exercising and reading. I try not to go to bed much later than 9 p.m.

My parents’ involvement when it comes to my schoolwork and learning

My parents hold me accountable for my work. I know that it’s my responsibility if I do or don’t do my work – it’s my life that will be affected. UCT Online High School has something called the ‘ConnectEd’ mobile parent app, which allows my parents to see whether I’m on pace, what assignments or informal tasks I’ve submitted and the grades I received for them. My parents will also receive emails telling them if I’m behind. They’ll then talk to me to find out why I’ve fallen behind and offer to help me.

What I found difficult about traditional school

The most difficult thing was catching up on missing classes. There are numerous reasons you may have missed a day or two of school and it’s always very hard to catch up, especially if the teacher taught an important lesson. This was a huge struggle for me personally because whenever I got sick or had to attend sports events and competitions, I felt lost when I returned to school, even if I’d received the worksheets because the teacher had moved on from where everyone had stopped the previous day. I had no idea what to do and it left me feeling anxious.

How do I keep up with schoolwork when travelling 

This is why being in UCT Online High School (and, I’m sure, most online schools) is an advantage as I can study anywhere, anytime, as long as I have my laptop and Wi-Fi connection. Since all my lessons and “Ask Me Anything” sessions are recorded or uploaded, I never miss a lesson. I can enjoy my hobbies, holidays and extramurals without the worry of missing work. I can then plan a catch-up schedule for it. What’s more, I don’t have to carry loads of textbooks and notebooks. If there’s something I don’t understand, I simply email the teacher, who usually responds very quickly.

Would I recommend online learning to a child friend? 

UCT Online High School is an amazing school. Besides being affordable and offering quality education, it also has free virtual clubs where you can meet people who have the same interests as yours. It also offers an excellent support system with great support coaches (a shout-out to mine: coach Zanele, you’re absolutely awesome. And to my previous coach: Sakina, thank you so much for getting me through my first year!) In addition, there are learning facilitators who are always happy to answer our questions.

UCT Online High School even has learner well-being counsellors to whom pupils can talk if they have a mental health issue. As for making friends, UCT Online High School encourages us to do so. We have sessions called “live check-ins” where we can meet and talk to our classmates. I’ve made many friends through them.

I don’t know what other online schools offer and can only speak of my experience at UCT Online High School, which I’d definitely recommend to friends and families.

Keemaya Naidoo is currently a Grade 9 learner at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Online High School. It’s her second year as a Sanlam UCT Online High School Scholarship recipient and a journey that she enjoys, values and recommends to other learners her age. 

Keemaya Naidoo
Keemaya Naidoo. Image: Supplied

Interested in a 50% partial scholarship? 

The ‘UCT Online High School Learning Liberated Scholarship Programme’ was launched on 31 July 2023 to invest in the education of talented learners from economically disadvantaged families, who demonstrate academic potential, have aspirations for tertiary education, and have the intent to make a positive and impactful contribution to our nation. The partial scholarship will cover 50% of tuition fees and 100% of the grade 12 SACAI examination fee for the duration of the scholarship period. 

With the kind and generous support of numerous corporations and sponsors, the ‘UCT Online High School Learning Liberated Scholarship Programme’ has been launched because UCT Online High School believes that these ambitious, intrinsically motivated and responsibly minded young people have the potential to access leading tertiary institutions for further education. This scholarship programme covers 50% of the tuition fees and 100% of the grade 12 SACAI examination fees for the duration of the scholarship. 

The ‘UCT Online High School Learning Liberated Scholarship Programme applications are now officially open and will close at midnight on 31 October 2023. All applications will be reviewed for shortlisting by the end of November 2023 with successful recipients notified in early December 2023. These successful recipients will begin their schooling in January 2024 at UCT Online High School. In order for a partial scholarship applicant to be considered as a ‘UCT Online High School Learning Liberated Scholarship Programme candidate, the prescribed eligibility criteria must be met. 

For more information, FAQs, and how to apply, head over to the ‘UCT Online High School Learning Liberated Scholarship Programme website for more details. 

UCT Online High School

If parents still have questions or need some more guidance, they can contact one of UCT Online High School’s friendly Admissions Consultants at +27 21 140 1792 or email admissions@uctohs.valentureonline.com. To see how it all works, watch the video below: 

*Disclaimer: Keemaya Naidoo is not directly affiliated with UCT Online High School or Valenture Institute, other than being a learner currently enrolled at the online high school. Keemaya has volunteered her time and written experience in order to submit this learner testimonial on UCT Online High School’s behalf. She has not received any form of remuneration or advantage for this factual

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This article was originally written by: Keemaya Naidoo