Blue Sky App, a software-developing company, will soon launch Virtual Academy, offering online lessons for grades eight to 12 students, according to the national curriculum and the guidelines provided by the education ministry.
Concept originator Timothy Angala, along with partner Albert de Greef, said it is about time Namibia seizes the opportunity of using the available resource to offer quality education online.
“Namibia is going to have Virtual Academy by August. Blue-Sky App (Pty) Ltd, in partnership with major telecommunications companies, are planning to have the virtual academy live by the second trimester,” shared Angala.
The digital communication graduate said Virtual Academy will start as a tutorial institution for learners in grades eight to 12 but the team will be engaging the line ministry on the possibility of formalising the academy.
The lessons to be offered will be according to the national curriculum.
“Learners are required to subscribe every month, where they will have access to e-books in pdf format from approved publishers, lessons, video sessions, group discussions and one-on-one briefings. There will be assessments continuously. Teachers will also be recruited on a teacher-learner ratio, who will be responsible for the update of content such as lessons,” highlighted Angala.
Angala stated the fourth industrial revolution is driven by information technology, artificial intelligence, robotics and the internet of things – and it is crucial for Namibia, as a country, and Africa, as a continent, to pioneer its own IT systems and be able to compete with other nations on their terms and not technologies imposed on them because of lack of indigenous IT systems.
“Most countries and some private schools are adopting dual education systems (conventional schooling and online schooling) to allow continuation of schooling in case of any catastrophe or epidemic. Online education can be used as a short period substitute to accommodate any learner who is psychosocially affected by any event in their environment or physical being,” shared Angala.
The line ministry last year implemented virtual learning in schools for the duration of the lockdown and beyond, but it has not been a bed of roses, as some learners either could not afford the internet or do not have access to digital devices.
The education sector has made several news headlines because of the challenges the sector is facing due to schools either not having textbooks, shortages of teachers at specific schools or the dilapidated infrastructure.
“With an online academy, you can have access to lessons from the comfort of your house – anywhere in Namibia – via your mobile phone,” encouraged the duo.
Even though some school representatives highlighted challenges their learners will face in terms of e-learning, some teachers mentioned they have been using the system all along and their learners have access to gadgets.
Angala stated: “Our virtual academy also allows those young people to gradually ascend to the level they are known to register for Namcol and acquire the necessary qualifications to enrol at university. The cost for tutorials and home-schooling is very high – and most learners who need these services cannot afford it hence the high failure rate for grades nine and 11 national assessments.”