Overcome the digital divide with Boston education
The Cambridge curriculum from Boston Online Home Education will prepare students for the digital future
Three core factors needed to exploit digital technologies — knowledge, technology and future readiness — are developed in learners through the Cambridge curriculum offered by Boston Online Home Education.
This is critical in light of the fact that SA has tumbled down the World Digital Competitiveness Rankings, from 48th place in 2019 to 60th in both 2020 and 2021.
Now in its fifth year, the ranking, produced by the Swiss-based International Institute for Management Development (IMD) World Competitiveness Centre, measures the capacity and readiness of 64 economies to adopt and explore digital technologies as a key driver for economic transformation in business, government and wider society.
The IMD rankings show SA needs to step up in this space as, particularly in a world affected by Covid-19, digital technologies are essential to remaining operationally and financially viable.
Such technologies determine not only whether countries thrive but also how well they can navigate trying times. The common factor for addressing the twin challenges of the pandemic's health and economic crises is countries' technological infrastructure. People and companies have had to adapt rapidly to learning and working online, ordering their necessities online and connecting with family and friends virtually.
Underlying reasons for SA's low ranking
According to the IMD report, the knowledge factor refers to the intangible infrastructure that underlines the process of digital transformation through the discovery, understanding and learning of new technologies.
These aspects are assessed according to training, education talent and scientific concentration, and are captured by indicators that measure the quality of the human capital available in a country, the level of investment in education and research, and the outcomes of these investments – for example, the number of registered patent grants in hi-tech fields or publications in academic or scientific journals.
SA's overall ranking is weighed down by subcategories including women with degrees (55), management of cities (63), digital and technological skills (57), higher education achievement (60), science graduates (55), employee training (52), hi-tech patent grants (59), R&D expenditure (44%) and personnel (51), and international experience (56).
Also, though SA is ranked in second place for education spending as a percentage of GDP, the results do not correlate with the amount spent, resulting in a dismal return on investment.
Pre-Covid international tests results placed SA learners critically below the standard of their international peers.
For example, in the 2019 Trends in International Maths & Science Study, which takes place every four years, SA was ranked 55th out of 58 countries, with only 37% and 28% of Grade 5 learners showing they had basic mathematical knowledge and basic science knowledge, respectively. In Grade 9, this number moved up to only 41% and 36% of mathematics and science learners, respectively.
Systemic challenges in the school system have been worsened by pupils losing 50%–75% of schooling in 2020. Additionally, according to Stellenbosch economics professor Nic Spaull, school dropouts for those aged seven to 17 years has now tripled from 230,000 pre-pandemic to 750,000, meaning an extra 500,000 children have dropped out of school during the pandemic.
Addressing the issues
Exploring new options in the online high school environment opens the way to address these challenges. One such solution is the Cambridge curriculum offered by Boston Online Home Education, which focuses on critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving skills. Pupils exposed to the best practice of a global curriculum framed within the African context.
The education provider aims to develop the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) skills of higher-order thinking and future readiness by offering pupils an opportunity to enjoy a high school online environment while preparing them for a future in which they can make significant contributions to Africa and the world.
Digital transformation is an ongoing process. Applied effectively, digital technologies not only enable education and work to move from schools and offices to the home but also provide increasingly efficient ways to organise processes in companies and governments.
The school environment can play a critical role in providing a solid foundation for relevant skills in this digital domain, equipping learners to play a strategic role in determining the extent of our country’s prosperity in the decades ahead.
This article was paid for by the Boston Group.
Win bursaries to the value of R200,000 with Arena Holdings and Boston Online Home Education
Arena Holdings, the publisher of the Sowetan, has identified challenges in education and taken steps to fill these gaps by selecting the Boston Group as its education partner in this venture.
Boston Online Home Education, which is part of the Boston Group, offers a high school equivalent education programme with a Cambridge International curriculum.
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Entries close on February 14 2022. Winners will be announced on February 21 2022. Terms and conditions apply.