Education, Funding, May 25, 2020, 7:03 p.m.



In terms of support sought as a result of COVID-19, ADvTECH has provided targeted financial relief to more than 5 300 families within its community, to the value of R24 million.

“Financial relief is evaluated on a case-by-case basis to ensure that we can help and assist in a manner where it is most beneficial and meets the needs and circumstances of individual families better,” says Roy Douglas, CEO of ADvTECH, SA’s largest private education provider.


This COVID-19 relief is in addition to ADvTECH’s annual bursary support programme of approximately R200 million that is currently benefiting 13 246 students.


“To continue to offer superior education beyond the lockdown and indeed, post the pandemic, educational institutions need to have sustained those things that differentiate them, including their staff.  That means that tough decisions must be made that balance empathy and responsiveness to families under pressure, as well as maintaining revenue at a level that enables the long-term sustainability of the institutions themselves,” Douglas says.


“ADvTECH’s strategy is thus to curtail operational costs without furloughing the very educators that enable us to offer the quality education we do, whether it be through our superior online offering or on site. This includes limiting impact on staff and service providers who create the ecosystems that differentiate our schools. We are therefore also committed to adhering to existing contractual arrangements with service providers, particularly those that employ staff at relatively low wages or whose own staff are more vulnerable, as far as is reasonable and feasible.”


Douglas says that while the immediate challenges need to be navigated, the aim and focus must be on relentlessly ensuring uninterrupted academic delivery and organisational sustainability into the future.


“We are proud of the way our staff and students have adapted and embraced online learning. We believe that it is going extremely well and has allowed us to continue delivering academic excellence. We have worked very hard at providing an education experience which is much more than ‘paper behind glass’, and strongly emphasised the nurturing and support expected from quality academic tuition.


“Currently, we are finalising preparations for a phased return as of the 1st of June. The safety of our employees, learners and students is our primary concern, and we have taken all measures required to ensure returns to sites happen as safely as possible,” says Douglas.


He says ADvTECH believes that the pandemic will impact consumer behaviour  and will create increased opportunities for the business based on its ability to offer safe educational environments of limited scale, which will make it easier to achieve physical distancing and the ongoing leveraging of our online capacity.


“We will continue paying close attention to balancing stakeholder needs to create the best possible long-term outcomes. While the strong intake in the current year,  including new enrolments during the lockdown period,  will likely offset some of the impact, we are hoping our quality online offering will prove itself a good proposition for prospective students as we enter a new normal future of education.”


In addition to the aforementioned measures implemented as a result of COVID-19, ADvTECH has also:


·Implemented a student support network and engagement monitoring process to identify and support all students who are not engaged.  This included the deployment of psychological and social work services.

·In the tertiary division, students were provided with data and access to core learning material to increase the numbers of students who were able to continue their courses with minimised disruption.  Although reduced-cost data was secured from telecommunications companies, it was provided at a higher rate than offered to state-funded public universities.  ADvTECH absorbed the difference in cost.

·Amended assessment strategies so that progress, competence and developmental needs can be measured and responded to so that students are able to progress academically on normal time scales.

·Instituted additional support for key groups such as Grade 12 learners.

·Established more robust networks with international education providers particularly from the East, to leverage learnings from their online and return to campus experiences.