Founder and CEO of South Africa based E-Square Education Enterprises, Lili Niemann, has been named twice in the Business Worldwide Magazine 2020 Global Corporate Excellence Awards. The dedicated educational entrepreneur won two awards; Social Entrepreneur of the Year- South Africa and Business Leadership and Dedication to the Community Award. Here we take a look at Lili’s career to date and examine why extending the institution’s offer to online learning is so important.

The rise of online learning 

Globalization and technology have radically changed the way we live; transforming the world economy and connecting us in ways that future generations could never have imagined possible. This can be seen in all aspects of life, but one of the most exciting paradigm shifts has been in the education sector. 

The way we see access learning has changed dramatically over recent years, and it’s now possible to access a quality education without ever setting foot in a classroom. For children growing up in the digital age, technology provides a powerful platform on which to play, socialise and learn. Online learning has created a far broader, more flexible educational environment, and it’s widely considered that the future of education is online. But there is still work to be done. As the new global environment becomes more competitive and knowledge based, millions of people are getting left behind.

Over 265 million children are still not in any form of education, of whom 22% are of the crucial primary age. While basic numeracy and literacy skills are improving and there are more learning opportunities for women and girls compared to ten years ago, there’s still great disparity higher up the educational ladder. 

Quality, accessible education for all

Lili Niemann of E-Square Enterprises has built a career on redressing the balance. Having already established an exceptional educational institution that is inclusive and accessible, she is now embracing the technological revolution by offering online learning too. 

Established by Lili in 1994, E-Square has already earned an impressive reputation as a quality educational institution. Situated in the vibrant Nelson Mandela Bay, the school has always focused on both education and entrepreneurship; Lili herself is a passionate agent of change who has achieved great successes in her career. After obtaining a Honors Degree in Music in the late 70’s, she went on to lecture in the subject at the Nelson Mandela University in 1988, the dawn of a great societal and democratic change in South Africa. 

Driven by a passion for music, education and helping others achieve their full potential, Lili established a Saturday school to help children from disadvantaged areas overcome their fear of maths and catch up with their peers. At that point she had no formal business qualifications, but her abundance of passion, creativity and clear entrepreneurial spirit were the driving force for what has now become one of South Africa’s most impressive educational facilities. 

To date, the institution has educated over 31,700 learners aged between 6 and 80. Each of its educational entities (Ed-U College Port Elizabeth, Ed-U Options Academy, Ed-U City Campus, Private Schools and now the online education facility, eCUBE Online) all share the same goal; to produce self-motivated individuals who are ready to tackle the next phase of their lives, whether in education or the corporate world.

eCUBE Online reinforces Lili’s emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship. The new online service will eventually offer nearly 1,000 varied courses that will be available to candidates all around the world, any time, any place, through any mobile device with an internet connection. Programmes are developed specifically around practical teaching and learning, encouraging important skills such as self-motivation to help students realise their potential as business leaders themselves. 

The move towards online learning comes at a pivotal time for South Africa, which is currently facing many economic challenges and a significant jobs shortage as well as critical global Covid 19 challenges. Lili and her team of passionate, dedicated educational professionals are focused on making quality education accessible to all South Africans and globally. 

Being able to learn remotely online has created a broader, more flexible learning environment that gives candidates the freedom to learn around their own lives, rather than having to fit into a strict on-site timetable. Online learning is also often a cheaper option, which also makes it more accessible to students on tight budgets, and the use of the internet has made it easier for students and teachers to collaborate and share resources and ideas. All of these combine to create an enriching, environmentally sustainable learning experience with huge potential. This means that more students than ever will now be able to access the many courses on offer through E-Square. 

In addition to the online and on-site learning curriculum, E-Square also offers a variety of online events. Successful Alumni have excelled both nationally and internationally, including Olympic athletes, opera singers and soccer stars. 

Collaboration and Philanthropy

Collaboration is an important element of E-Square Education’s work. Lili has secured global partnerships with Durham University Business School, Nuffic & PUM Netherlands, University of Twente, the Entrepreneurship Institute, and Genius U. 

Lili is also a committed philanthropist, launching the Rara Avis Foundation to help talented learners and students achieve their potential, as well as bursaries for Excellent Achievements in Academic, Music and Sport. This student value was achieved with the support of corporate sponsor donations, to the value of over R13m over the past 25 years. 

This combination of business acumen, partnership working, cutting edge technology and a value system that aligns with the 17 sustainable goals of the United Nations, is what sets E-Square Education apart from the competition.

Lili explained her vision and philosophy to our reporter: “My vision is for E-Square Education to become a world class organisation, a global provider of relevant, quality online learning and an Institution which creates entrepreneurs who are job creators, rather than seekers. I strongly believe that education should not be about teaching students for a profit, but about making money in order to provide quality education for all.”