The digital divide can be broadly defined as the gap between the part of society that has access to online technologies and information available via the internet and the other part of society that do not. Online learning is the future of education, but for many it is still a relatively new concept or a foreign concept, as there are far more regions that lack the facilities to accommodate this mode of learning. If online learning is the future of education- does that mean there will be many left behind in the past? There are many students living in areas where the schools lack the necessary infrastructure- in a traditional sense and for these such schools, online is not really a thought at all.
There is no denying that there are schools in certain regions where the presence of digital poverty resulting in unequal education is rife. There are many children that are either not attending school at all or are simply not receiving an education that benefits them in any way for their future. The set-backs do not begin with a lack of online facilities and no broadband to access online lessons- the issue begins with insufficient infrastructure and, thereafter little to no service provision and inadequate educators. The state of some schools and the quality of education brings to the fore that the quality education one receives appears to be very dependent on one’s social status.
There are many initiatives that seek to eradicate ‘digital poverty’ in efforts to provide an education that equips students with the knowledge and skill-set to become a functional and successful member of society. Many schools have moved towards virtual in efforts to limit disruptions and also enhance the overall learning experience, in addition, the transition to online and the benefits noted regarding its ability to teach in a fun, interactive manner has proven to enhance information retention and learner participation. Ivy Academy is a high-school, that has leveraged off of the 30 years’ experience in the education industry from its parent company, Boston City Campus. Ivy caters to Grade 7-12 learners. Students that register to study with the school have access to any 46 of the Boston City Campus- supports centres nation-wide that offer online facilities for students to make use of.
The provision of online resources is not enough to alleviate the education gap that exists in South Africa, we need to start where it counts. Until there is such a time that every school and learner have access to online facilities to accommodate online learning, South African schools should show ubuntu in giving what they can. ‘Privileged’ schools, so to speak, should be encouraged to do their part for their community and the future generation of South Africa by providing educational resources schools who lack sufficient learning content, be it curriculum content or past-paper summaries. Ivy Academy has teamed up with Liberty two degrees, to offer disadvantaged schools’ access to past-papers and e-Book summaries that can be printed and made use of, offline. This speaks to the school’s mission to make quality education accessible for everyone.
Online learning and access to quality education should not be a luxury that caters to the elite market, as a society, we can uplift others and contribute what is possible- after all it’s for the greater good of our own country to invest in the future workforce.