Kieno Kammies has been appointed head of culture at the newly launched University of Cape Town’s online school.
Kieno Kammies has been appointed head of culture at the newly launched University of Cape Town’s online school.

Kieno Kammies announced as head of culture at UCT’s online high school

By Edwin Naidu Time of article published Jul 25, 2021

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Former broadcaster Kieno Kammies is going back to school.

Born in Elsies River, Cape Town, Kammies, has been announced as the head of culture at the newly launched University of Cape Town’s online school which seeks to disrupt private education with a budget-beating offering for grade 8 to 12 pupils from 2022.

“A big part of my role entails making sure the overall culture is welcoming, empowering and uplifting. This essentially allows the strategic imperatives to be realised,” Kammies, whose career as a broadcaster began with him making coffee in the Reuters newsroom three decades ago, and learning from news legend Jimi Matthews.

He is hoping that his ‘can do’ attitude which propelled him through life, would rub off on pupils at the university’s school. The UCT Online High School plans to serve South African learners across a broad range of socio-economic means, giving them the opportunity to study at a fee of R2 095 per month. The school will be available to pupils throughout the world, and is said to be one of the most affordable private schools.

Kammies said the curriculum is aligned to the National Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS), which is a single, comprehensive, and concise policy document introduced by the Department of Basic Education for all the subjects listed in the National Curriculum Statement for Grades R - 12.

“The role is about nurturing the culture of the UCT Online High School community. I manage a fireside chat series with UCT faculty and industry experts to help learners bridge the gap from school to university and their careers. We want learners to see how the skills they are learning are applied in the real world, and the immense opportunities that exist for them to have a positive impact on the continent and beyond,” he said.

Kammies will co-host weekly assemblies, run webinars for parents to help navigate the challenges of raising youth in today's environment, and assist with leadership and mentorship of the school community.

As a father of two, Kammies, believes he has the right credentials.

“My parents never told us we can’t do anything. They never shot down our dreams. They always encouraged us to think about how it could be achieved. I was taught that attitude and aptitude is essential,” he said.

He hopes this positive attitude will spill off onto pupils.

UCT vice-chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng said in a statement that the university was committed to playing its part in addressing the systemic challenges facing the country’s education system.

“As a result, we have taken the bold step to launch an innovative online high school in January 2022, where the academic excellence of UCT can be extended to high school learners across the country. The UCT Online High School will create a new opportunity for learners across South Africa to choose an aspirational school and unleash their potential," she said.

The Covid-19 crisis has shown UCT’s capacity to lead with innovative responses and imagination. However, the crisis has also amplified a number of the challenges already facing the education sector, and bold steps are required right now to bring more cohesion to the education system, and provide more access for the next generation of leaders.

Throughout the world, online learning has become the norm for schools and universities.

According to the World Economic Forum, the pandemic has resulted in the closure of schools throughout the world, leaving an estimated 1.2 billion out of the classroom. As a result, education has changed dramatically, with the growth in e-learning, where teaching is increasingly done remotely and digitally.

For this ground-breaking initiative, UCT has partnered with Cape Town-based education technology company, Valenture Institute, to deliver the UCT Online High School. Valenture's proprietary learning technology, analytics and learner support model is said to be at the forefront of online and blended learning.

Valenture's CEO, Robert Paddock, said: “We're delighted and humbled to partner with UCT on this ground-breaking initiative.”

Learners will benefit from the UCT Online High School's supported self-discipline model, which allows learners to pace their own learning and get high quality 1:1 tutoring from expert teachers and support coaches whenever they needed it. Learners will also be prepared with a unique range of university and career preparation services and offerings.

In addition, the entire curriculum will be made available for free in an interactive online platform called the Open UCT Online High School. Users of the free content will be issued a learner number to save their unique learning path and data, with unlimited logins permitted.

Learners have full access to a self-paced curriculum where they can progress at their own pace through expert designed interactive notes, videos, animations, simulations, practise assignments, quizzes and more. The interactive content is intuitively organised, and easily searchable, making it an excellent resource for teachers and learners around the country to benefit from.

But last word from the head of culture. “Authenticity is important because it’s the bedrock on which you build your future relationships and your career. With it comes a level of humbleness, a realisation that you don’t operate in a vacuum, and that there is cause and effect in our actions. All of this while needing to be true to who you are,” said Kammies.

* For more information, please visit The school can be contacted via [email protected] or +271800 573 281.

Sunday Independent

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