New high school gets rid of classrooms, offers eSports

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 28 Jun 2022
Inside the Centennial Schools gaming centre.
Inside the Centennial Schools gaming centre.

Sandton-based Centennial Schools is breaking educational norms by offering a digital learning and teaching strategy aligned with the needs of organisations in the digital era.

The high school says it is preparing its pupils for a digital economy though a range of digital skills that address the deficiencies in South Africa’s current education system.

In the new era, technology has been ingrained into every aspect of our lives, and offering an array of digital literacy skills will better equip pupils to become productive citizens of society, it notes.

Centennial Schools has replaced classrooms with larger digital learning hubs, fitted with a computer for each pupil, to create a modern learning environment that seamlessly integrates technology into every aspect of teaching and learning.

By adopting the tools utilised within the business world − such as MS Suite, MS Outlook, Teams, One Note, Word and PowerPoint − at grassroots level, the school says it is future-proofing its pupils to ensure they are ready for an ever-changing future.

Launched in January, the school is the brainchild of entrepreneur and long-time educationalist Shaun Fuchs.

As CEO and founder, Fuchs says he aims to address the needs of modern school students. “It's becoming more difficult to find genuinely revolutionary reform at the system level in existing schools.

“The Centennial Schools offers students holistic education, incorporating tech advancements and skills they’ll need in a technology-rich future, and an approach to education that moves beyond a ‘one-size-fits-all’ model used in so many schools.”

Centennial Schools follows the Independent Examinations Board curriculum of subjects, which is in line with most private schools. It currently caters for middle school (Grade 7 to Grade 9) and will introduce senior school (Grade 10 to Grade 12) over the next few years.

The school is also equipped with a fitness centre, focusing on strength training and physical fitness.

The creative hubs that act as creative learning spaces.
The creative hubs that act as creative learning spaces.
The fitness centre.
The fitness centre.

It is well-documented that SA faces a digital skills gap − with government, the private sector and industry commentators calling for an increased focus on skills development to take the country into the fourth industrial revolution, while closing the unemployment gap.

Centennial Schools claims to have the largest eSports arena in Africa, at over 300m2, with 30 gaming stations where game-based learning takes place.

The gaming centre utilises games such as Minecraft for imparting skills such as CoinED for crypto-currencies and blockchain, Adobe Suite for creative and digital innovation, and Studio One for music production and film scoring.

More institutions are embracing eSports as part of their curriculum to harness its potential to teach scholars mental toughness, leadership skills, sportsmanship and communication skills, according to experts.

The eSports arena kitted out with Asus hardware.
The eSports arena kitted out with Asus hardware.
The lounge arena in the eSports arena is centred around Fifa tournaments.
The lounge arena in the eSports arena is centred around Fifa tournaments.

“While students are taught on campus in the learning hubs, lessons are fully prepared and available to all students at least three weeks in advance. Any student who misses physically being in the learning hub can access the work remotely and engage with the teacher,” says Fuchs.

No school uniforms are required, and a code of conduct supports a values-based system, to ensure self-discipline within each student.

“Each teacher has been hand-picked and equipped with the skills to be best prepared to work in a re-engineered learning landscape, from an academic, emotional and physical perspective,” states Fuchs.

There is currently one school located in Johannesburg, with plans to expand to eight schools over the next few years, across the Western Cape, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.