Image of Ria Sookraj - South Africa's Top Distance Learner

In a resounding affirmation of the efficacy and potential of distance education, Ria Sookraj, a student from Futures Academy Online High School, has emerged as the number one distance learner across South Africa. This is the outcome of an internal review of publicly available data from all major online schools, coupled with information from the Department of Basic Education, press releases from the private assessment bodies and a review of the results obtained by the Top 40 in the Western Cape.

Accelerated Success: Four Grades in Three Years

Ria’s educational trajectory is both impressive and inspiring, having completed four grades in a mere three years without the assistance of external tutors. Her remarkable academic record includes seven distinctions, an overall aggregate of 92%, and standout scores of 96% in Mathematics and 92% in Physical Sciences in the 2023 National Senior Certificate Examinations.

The Struggle for Recognition

Despite her outstanding achievements, Ria’s story sheds light on the broader issue of recognition for part-time and distance learners. Her performance exceeded that of a few peers acknowledged in the Western Cape Education Department’s Provincial Awards for the Top 40 in the Western Cape. However, a discrepancy in recognition exists, as WCED officials noted that these awards are limited to full-time registered candidates. Futures Academy is actively working to bridge this gap, advocating for the inclusion of part-time and distance learners in future recognitions.

A Family’s Gratitude

Ria’s journey to the top was supported by an exceptional team of educators at Futures Academy. Her parents, Dr. K Soonder and Dr. R Sookraj, expressed their heartfelt appreciation in a letter to the school, saying, “We would like to sincerely thank the educators at Futures Academy for their efforts, compassion, understanding and support towards Ria.” They also extended a special thanks to Mr. Imaad Isaacs for his strong leadership, underscoring the collective effort that contributed to Ria’s success.

Beyond Academics: Shaping Futures

Ria received firm offers from all medical schools in South Africa. Her achievements are a beacon of excellence, illuminating the path for future distance learners. As she embarks on her dream of pursuing a career in medicine, her story is a testament to the transformative power of dedicated educators and a supportive learning environment.

Imaad Isaacs, Executive Head at Futures Academy, reflected on the significance of these accomplishments, stating, “We are thrilled to celebrate the success of our learners and acknowledge the hard work and dedication of our outstanding staff. These achievements reflect our ongoing commitment to providing accessible and effective online education that prepares students for future success.”

Ria’s success story is not just about academic accolades; it’s about breaking barriers and setting new standards for online education in South Africa. As Futures Academy continues to advocate for the recognition of distance learners, Ria stands as a shining example of what can be achieved with determination, support, and an innovative approach to education.