From hurdles to horizons – revolutionising education for South African matriculants with video-based learning platforms


South Africa stands at a crossroads where the aspirations of many matriculants clash with the formidable reality of their financial constraints. The nation grapples with a critical challenge – the dream of further education and enhanced employment prospects is often quashed by the exorbitant costs associated with university education. The repercussions of this financial chasm are felt in the persistently high youth unemployment rates, reaching a staggering 46.5% at the end of the first quarter in 2023. If we know that traditional education avenues are likely to fail the majority of our youth, what is the alternative? Big problems demand pioneering solutions, and this is where online video-based learning platforms have the potential to flip the script on the numbers and rewrite a narrative of hope for the next generation.

Limited access and fierce competition

The primary hurdle for South African matriculants lies in the limited access to university education. With a finite number of universities and a limited number of seats, the competition is fierce, and stringent requirements further narrow the gateway. The harsh reality is that not everyone can secure a spot, and those who fall short find themselves at a turning point, compelled to either find employment to make ends meet or invest time and resources in upgrading their qualifications. Financial constraints compound this challenge, making the prospect of university education seem like an unattainable dream for many.

University is not their only option

Soaring tuition fees, coupled with the ongoing costs of accommodation, textbooks, and daily living, create a substantial burden. Even for those who manage to secure a place, the investment is immense, and there’s no guarantee of employment at the end of the academic journey. The consequences of this predicament are dire. South Africa has witnessed a surge in youth taking up low-paying, menial jobs that neither reflect their potential nor align with their aspirations. This perpetuates a disheartening cycle of unfulfilled potential and contributes to the escalating rates of youth unemployment, which ultimately contributes to broader societal challenges. We’ve reached a point where it is essential to acknowledge that a university qualification is not the only way to get ahead.

Overcoming challenges, empowering the future

Our country urgently needs innovative, accessible, and affordable solutions to empower its youth within their means to enable them to bridge the skills gap, secure meaningful employment, and contribute to national development. Online, video-based learning platforms emerge as a realistic alternative in such a challenging landscape, offering a transformative lifeline to young school leavers. Online learning platforms are effective in dismantling the financial and geographical barriers that impede the progress of many matriculants. By providing cost-effective access to industry-aligned education and skills development, modern learning platforms can successfully empower South Africa’s youth to unlock their full potential and forge a brighter future, starting where they are and using what they have.

Revolutionary impact of online learning

The undeniable advantage of online learning lies in its clear accessibility. Unlike traditional universities with limited spaces and stringent requirements, online platforms offer an abundance of knowledge and skill-based courses covering diverse fields. These platforms make industry experts accessible in an unprecedented manner, allowing individuals to benefit from practical knowledge rooted in years of experience. Being able to pick and choose from industry-aligned educational resources is an immediate solution that ensures that learners can be equipped with the skills currently demanded by the job market, which translates to relevance, heightens their chances of employability and creates more opportunities for the entrepreneurial spirit to shine through.

Breaking through financial barriers

Financial constraints are also addressed by the affordability and easy availability of online courses. While traditional university fees may seem astronomical, online learning platforms offer a more reasonable investment. This affordability, coupled with the accessibility of knowledge, enables matriculants to pursue their passions and interests without succumbing to financial strain. Learning can also take place without the need for geographical relocation, which allows individuals to fit their personal development around their other life commitments, without having to make unsustainable sacrifices. This makes it less of a burden to further their skills which means they’re more likely to finish what they started, as online learning does not take them out of the real world in the same way as physically attending lectures on campus.

Customising their educational future

Furthermore, online learning enables tailored education based on individual interests. Whether passionate about makeup, fitness, or any niche, learners can upskill, turning their passion into a profitable venture. Monetising skills provide an alternative to traditional university education for those lacking means. On-demand video learning excels due to flexibility; pre-recorded sessions accommodate individual paces, unlike text or in-person learning. This suits modern learners’ shorter attention spans, favouring bite-sized content. Microlearning, with brief video nuggets, delivers immediate gratification and accomplishment, contrasting with lengthy lectures or dense textbooks for a more satisfying learning experience.

Online platforms key to youth empowerment

Online, video-based learning platforms have emerged as a lifeline for South African matriculants, offering a viable and immediately accessible alternative to traditional university education. Such platforms break down barriers, making education accessible and affordable. By empowering the youth with industry-aligned skills, these platforms pave the way for a generation of self-driven individuals capable of overcoming financial constraints to contribute meaningfully to the nation’s development. South Africa’s future hinges on its ability to embrace these innovative solutions and provide its youth with the tools to succeed in the dynamic, demanding modern job market.

Tebogo Moleta, MD and Founder at Think Tank