Teneo Breaks The Education Mould

Staff Writer

3 min, 31 sec read

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September 2021, South Africa: The digital revolution, combined with rapid advancements in technology, is demonstrating that traditional education systems that are rooted in an old-fashioned understanding of societal needs are becoming outmoded and obsolete. This has been the main challenge that Teneo Online School has faced head-on since its foundation in 2018, long before global lockdowns forced the world towards the online paradigm shift.

"The 21st Century has created requirements unique to human history," says John Shaw, CEO of Teneo Online School.

Teneo Breaks The Education Mould

"Society is increasingly digital. To function effectively and comfortably in this technological age, children must be equipped with new skills that enable them to negotiate in the rapidly changing environment. They must be able to take what they've learned and apply it to their own circumstances. This requires new critical and analytical skills, the ability to think outside the box and to apply initiative to challenges. There is no room for a 'one-size-fits-all' approach to education in this digital age," adds Shaw.

As Africa's top school 'in the cloud', Teneo boasts sophisticated systems that guide students within the complex digital culture, teaching the "netiquette" of online behaviour, understanding how to engage on social forums and instructing them in methods of planning, self-discipline, and time management. One of the most important skills they learn is to manage their online and offline lives, something that many adults still struggle with today.

"For economic, safety and employment-related reasons, many families are moving to areas that are more conducive to their lifestyle. Under normal circumstances, changing schools could be disruptive and even traumatic for children, but with the ability to learn remotely, any geographic transition is completely smooth."

Another advantage of structured, remote learning is the time and money saved in travelling to and from school can be directed towards other more productive activities. Time is freed up for hobbies or extra-mural activities that would not otherwise be possible. In fact, Shaw points out that there are many budding entrepreneurs among the Teneo students, who take advantage of the flexibility to launch into the "gig" economy, developing small "side-line" businesses, selling various products or services and even becoming involved in voluntary activities.

Online schooling has its fair share of critics, who claim that children are isolated from social contact, that learning becomes impersonal and clinical and that the lack of competition, peer encouragement and inspiration are major handicaps, but Shaw contends that Teneo has developed structures and systems to deal with these perceived disadvantages. Emotional intelligence and relationships are tantamount to this.

"Each child is treated as an individual, not a number. Relationships are of primary importance and teachers and classmates for each subject are together for the entire academic year. There is the normal chatter between classmates, there are group projects, and each student has immediate and individual access to his/her teacher – far more so than is normally the case in most traditional schools," says Shaw.

"In reality, because of the remote nature of classrooms, there is significantly more diversity of students than in traditional schools, exposing them to other cultures and ways of thinking and viewing the world."

Parents are closely involved with every step of the education process and are kept abreast of their child's progress. They also have the assurance that sophisticated systems are in place to ensure that any online bullying is immediately nipped in the bud and that the learning space itself is secure.

Final Matric examinations are written through various examination bodies. Students opting for the South African curriculum have the option of choosing between SACAI and IEB which are both accredited by Umalusi and result in a recognised Matric qualification. Alternatively, students have the additional option of choosing the British International curriculum, accredited with Pearson Edexcel which is globally recognised, and well-received by international and South African universities alike.

Unlike most private schools in the traditional mould, Teneo Online School is both affordable and accessible. All a student needs is a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection.

"The future of our society will depend very much on our ability to adapt to and work with technology," Shaw concludes. "Part of our mission is to ensure that our students will be effective, well-adjusted citizens functioning comfortably in a global digital economy."