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SAHRC and UCT’s Online High School partner to launch Online High School Rural Initiative

Picture:supplied

Picture:supplied

Published Dec 13, 2021

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The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and the University of Cape Town’s Online High School have partnered to launch SAHRC UCT Online High School Rural Initiative

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The initiative aims to accelerate access to online learning, particularly for girls in rural areas

“We are thrilled to collaborate with the SAHRC on this important initiative to level the playing field with an innovative education model, and create access to high quality schooling for all,” said Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng, UCT Vice-Chancellor.

According to the statement, its pilot phase is set for the 2022 school calendar. This collaboration will focus on the communities of the Valley of 1 000 Hills, about 50 km northwest of Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal.

The pilot phase of this partnership will facilitate access to a quality online high school education through UCT Online High School for up to 14 students.

The Valley of 1 000 Hills is plagued by high levels of poverty, with approximately 48 to 50% in unemployment rates, and limited access to quality education for the large majority. The area is also considered one of the major epicentres of the HIV/Aids pandemic, with HIV infection rates as high as 40% or more in some communities in the area. The majority of the homes are informal dwellings, without adequate basic services such as water, sanitation and refuse removal – though a growing number now have electricity and piped water.

The SAHRC UCT Online High School Rural Initiative has a mission to promote equal access to basic education particularly for the girls, provide advocacy for online education, advocate for policy and legislative changes to promote online education and to ensure the most vulnerable are not left behind in the migration to online education.

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“It is of great symbolic significance that the SAHRC UCT Online High School Rural Initiative should be launched in line with International Human Rights Day, on 10 December 2021. The theme for the 2021 Human Rights Day is Equality: Reducing Inequalities, Advancing Human Rights. This theme directly relates to Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which instructs that all human beings are born free and are equal in dignity and rights,” said the statement.

Noting this year’s theme, the Online High School Rural Initiative stated it is in direct confrontation with impediments to equality. It said it is an intentional encounter with the continued historic, systematic and socio-economic conditions that contribute to the gendered challenges faced by girls in rural areas.

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