Education

Since 1994, education policy making in South Africa has focused on the transformation of education to improve access, quality, equity and redress for learners in line with Constitutional principles. The six key policy reform areas are the National Qualifications Framework (NQF) and skills development, curriculum reform, educator education, school governance, improving the quality of education and education financing.

This document collection o­n education policy is being developed to provide information support to those working within the South African education policy communit.


Related publications

This policy brief argues for a policy direction to develop a culture of formative assessment through what is termed ANA Professional Development (ANA_PD) programmes.

South Africa has a high enrolment rate and a high investment rate in education (about 5 per cent of GDP), but education is still of unsatisfactory quality. This policy brief proposes wider usage of value-added assessment (VAA) and analysis (which provides a more reliable estimate of the value added – the extent to which schools make a difference in their learners’ achievement levels) in policy decision-making.

Policy brief on findings that socio-economic status has a significant impact on primary school learner performance. Poorer learners often suffer poor educational outcomes: They start school with a disadvantage that stays with them because they face financial, resource, infrastructure and institutional constraints. Although such broad observations should inform the basic foundations of education policy, they are not particularly useful when it comes to formulating and prioritising practical, detailed and actionable policy measures. A recent study analyses the reading and maths test scores of a set of Grade 6 school learners and identifies various key factors that affected their performance. In addition, results are broken down according to socio-economic grouping to identify those policy measures which, if implemented, will have a positive impact on educational outcomes in general, and on the performance of poor learners specifically.

Considers whether the Bolsa Família programme increases school enrolment, reduces dropout rates and improves grades.

This article investigates inequalities in children’s schooling in South Africa in 2008 using community-based data collected by the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS). ­

Policy brief which argues that while women's entry into higher education in South Africa over the past decade has increased, they remain under-represented within the science, engineering and technology ­sector.

Examines the shifts in training and employment patterns between 1997 and 2007.
New research brief from the Education and Skills Development unit at the Human Sciences Research Council.
Research findings and action steps drawn from policies and practices that have been critical to the success of educational reform­s in the US.
Information on the different types of brokerage activities and mechanisms that are used to link research evidence to policy in Europe ­with the broad aim of raising awareness of evidence informed policy in education. The full report and an executive summary are available.­
Issue Three of the PAN newsletter focuses on the interface between child-centred evidence and related policy. It features a range of resources that illustrate how child-focused data and research evidence can contribute to and inform better outcomes for children when formulating social policy.
A series of ­booklets on key issues in education and training policy in South Africa.
An HSRC policy brief on Millennium Development Goals relating to water, sanitation, education and health challenges facing the Southern African Development Community.
­Download the following policy briefs from the University of Stellenbosch's Departrment of Economics:

­For richer, for poorer? Can lessons learnt from wealthy schools be applied to help poor schools deliver better results?
The role of educational attainment and quality schooling in reducing racial earnings inequality
Identifying policy priorities to improve outcomes for poor primary school learners
The vital role of good school management in improving primary school outcomes
New evidence in the case for improving the quality of secondary school learning outcomes­­

This policy brief focuses on the extent to which gender equality policies and interventions impact on teachers’ commitment to MDG3. It investigates South African educators’ perceptions, attitudes and beliefs regarding girls’ access to, participation and success in mathematics and science in high schools.
Reflects on implications of South Africa's low university graduation rate. Recommends steps to address income and racial disparities in higher education including a voucher system for lower-income students.

The Manual is intended not only to clarify some of the technical concepts presented in international human rights law but also, more importantly, to stand on its own as a useful reference tool for those who would like to gain a deeper understanding of how these concepts relate to education. In summarizing and analysing the major human rights treaties and conventions from the perspective of education, this manual presents the key rights as they relate to children, parents and governments, and the corresponding obligations, especially of governments, that must be met to fulfil those rights.

This handbook provides Members of Parliament with information on children’s issues and their rights. Its purpose is to equip MPs with the tools to integrate a child-rights perspective into all work that Members engage with.

The main purpose of this handbook is to facilitate the investment process of a public research institute in developing a system (from the simplest to the most sophisticated) of monitoring and evaluation (M&E), and knowledge management (KM) of the impact of research on public policy.
Aims to provide analytical tools and resources to assist analysts and managers with policy development or service-planning projects.
Sets out the key issues to consider when designing and managing evaluations, and the presentation and interpretation of evaluation results. Describes why thinking about evaluation before and during the policy design phase can help to improve the quality of evaluation results without needing to hinder the policy proce­ss.
Call for the development of a course which will improve  organizational capacity to influence public policies in developing countries - deadline 23 January 2011
A case book aimed at ensuring­ that managers are using evidence to make decisions and development stakeholders are able to keep track of progress.
Reviews international good practice for using data in policymaking and develops a conceptual framework for characterising and classifying the different elements of a data strategy for public sector orga­nisations.
A free, online, interactive tool, which maps and graphs more than 175 indicators from the World Bank’s development database.
Explains the main idea and intuition of leading empirical strategies devised to identify causal impacts and illustrates their use with real-world examples. ­
In the final issue of the PAN newsletter for 2011 ­we look at how the evaluation of government programmes can be invaluable in improving performance and service delivery.
A presentation outlining approaches to achieving research-based­ policies.

This is the first edition of the Policy > Action Network newsletter, From Evidence to Action, published with support from the Programme to Support Pro-Poor Policy Development (PSPPD), a partnership between the Presidency and the Eu­ropean Union.­

A conceptual framework to be used in the production of case studies which identify factors that help or hinder rigorous impact evaluations from influencing policy.

National Income Dynamics Study Waves 1 & 2 schools administrative data files and documentation. The NIDS User Guide describes the process of creating Schools Administrative Datasets for the NIDS Wave 1 & 2 respondents.

Call for proposals to conduct a series of case studies to identify factors that contribute to or impede evidence from rigorous impact evaluations to influence policy(deadline is 28 February 2011).
­This database provides policymakers and practitioners with easy access to systematic reviews that examine evidence on the effects of social and economic development interventions in low- and middle-income countries. It draws together systematic reviews from a range of sources and covers all sectors.
Gives twelve examples of leading innovations in family engagement as an integral and effective strategy in systemic education reform.
NDP 2030

The National Development Plan (NDP) aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. According to the plan, South Africa can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society. The popular version in all official languages and two-page illustrated versions are also available.

 

Presidency State of the Nation home page with additional information and links.­
A policy speaking to the needs of the educational system, drawing on constitutional requirements.
The Presidency has published the National Evaluation Draft Policy Framework for public comment. Comments can be emailed to Dr Ian Goldman at [email protected] by 30 September 2011. For enquiries call Dr Ian Goldman at (012) 308 1918. ­­
­Policies from 1997 to 2007 which are listed on the Department of  Education website.

Inequality among different socio-economic, racial and gender groups is a salient topic in South Africa. Specifically in education, the South African education system exhibits a skew distribution of achievement levels for an upper-middle-income developing country. It is thus critical to assess educational inequality in order to address the systemic factors which inhibit the attainment of an equitable educational system. The analysis of data from the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) provides an opportunity to examine this issue from a number of different perspectives.

TIMSS is an international study which assesses mathematics and science knowledge at the Grades 4, 8 and 9 levels. South Africa has participated in four rounds of TIMSS Grade 8 and 9 surveys over the last 20 years. The analysis of this data has allowed the Human Sciences Research Council to examine the key policy areas of gender equity, safety and security, educational pathways and the impact of inequality. In addition, the emerging issue of learner attitudes as a significant factor in understanding learner achievement has been explored. Using this data, four policy briefs and a journal article have been published which contextualise mathematics and science achievement within the broader South African landscape of inequality and poverty. In a bid to deepen the South African education agenda, it is necessary to engage key stakeholders in critical discussion in key policy areas and emerging policy debates.

Attached are policy briefs drawn from this study and presentations from the seminar will be made available shortly

The government spends the biggest slice of its budget on education, more than any other African country. And yet the crisis persists. In How to Fix South Africa’s Schools: Lessons From Schools That Work, Jonathan Jansen, Vice Chancellor at the University of the Free State and documentary filmmaker Molly Blank look at South African schools that work, in spite of adverse conditions – hunger, poverty, lack of resources, lack of toilets, and overcrowding in both rural and urban environments – and have drawn out the practical strategies that make them successful. Some critical strategies they found include: principal leadership; parental involvement; committed teachers; understanding the whole child; a commitment to quantity and quality; motivational activities; setting performance standards and working effectively to meet them; continuous student assessment; and outside partnerships. The book includes 19 videos that chronicle the stories of these school communities.At the link above excerpts from these documentaries can be viewed.

As students across the country are demanding reduced tertiary institution fees, or even the abolition of fees entirely, this opinion piece presents data on issues that are relevant to the debate. 

The 20 Year Review synthesis report published in 2014 was informed by several thematic areas. These are regarded as focal areas to tell the story of South Africa’s progress since democracy. The 21 thematic background papers were written by officials in the Presidency and other government departments using research and other evidence to inform progress, sector developments and challenges still remaining. The body of work that went into developing these papers was extensive with the goal of understanding where we came from in order to inform South Africa’s future trajectory.  Each of the thematic papers was based on background papers which are available at the link above.

In the late 1990s the Department of Education restricted the re-enrolment of over-aged learners and the number of times underperforming learners could repeat a grade. This was intended to reduce the number of learners in the school system, but may have contributed to a sudden increase in measured unemployment. Of the 2.3 million increase in the number of unemployed between 1997 and 2003, up to 900 000 may be due to unintended effects of these policies which brought hidden (youth) unemployment into the open.

The aim of this report is to take up the National Planning Commission’s offer to engage with the National Development Plan Vision 2030. It ams to provide a constructively critical assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the policy proposals of the National Development Plan (NDP) and of the underlying diagnostic studies on which it is based.

All countries in the world acknowledge the universality of the right to education and South Africa (SA) is no exception. According to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) as Resolution 44/25 of 20 November 1989,(2) every child has a right to free and compulsory basic education. How successful has SA been in ensuring the realisation of this right? Does the legal, political, economic and social environment in the country promote or constrain this right? Above all, based on what is currently happening in the country, can it be convincingly concluded that the state is committed to the fulfilment of this right for every child? This CAI paper looks at the current South African education environment and examines if such an environment promotes or constrains the realisation of the right to education. CONTINUE READING

This report presents the contemporary global context and charts a path for policymakers and citizens to navigate the increasing interconnec tedness of the world and to face the growing global challenges. It describes how the dynamics of power, voice and wealth in the world are changing and identifies new policies and institutions necessary to address these 21st century realities and promote human development with greater equity, sustainability and social integration. Identifies reforms necessary at both global and national level with an emphasis on building social cohesion, the need for state commitment to education, health and social protection, and openness to trade integration emerge as means of navigating towards sustainable and equitable human development.

Citizen participation in policymaking and service design has been debated or attempted, but too infrequently realised. Considers current reform initiatives in the Australian Public Service (APS) and examines the implications of citizen-centric ideals for the processes and structures of government agencies.­
Examines the ­impacts of personal-household and state-level characteristics (including government policy) on the li­kelihood of transition from one educational level to the next.

Highlights policy innovations including expanded social protection programmes in Africa that are facilitating progress toward at­tainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

An initiative by the South African Institute of Race Relations which aims to track development trends in South Africa, and will be released on a quarterly basis. ­

Examines how the SA­ Department of Arts and Culture and some provinces have conceived of and used research in the formulation of arts and culture policy since 1994.

Investigates whether a causal interpretation of the association between cognitive skills and economic growth is appropriate, and whether cross-country evidence supports a case for the economic benefits of effective school policy.
A report intended as an initial high-level paper to stimulate discussion amongst New Zealand policy advisors and policy makers.­
Considers the profile, image and status of nursing and the nature and role of nursing education.
Analyses the implementation of the Bologna Process and its impact over a decade on higher education across 46 European countries and broader reform processes affecting European higher education.
Offers a cross-government approach to ­sustainable growth and improved social welfare. Offers rigorous data and evidence-based analysis for updating policies across government.
Draws together evidence and synthesises the findings from eight African case studies that formed part of the HERANA project.
Describes six state strategies to better connect basic skills education to postsecondary education and careers.­
Report of an expert panel which focused specifically on ­policy and guideline documents for the National Curriculum Statement.
Assesses the progress made by South African cities over the last decade in relation to key development outcomes and reviews strategic problems and opportunities relating to planning and management­
Makes the case for a national policy on school libraries and costs a national roll-out ­to show how this could be paid for over 10 years.
Proposals for a policy on schools­ from the Development Bank of Southern Africa.
Reviews the changing patterns of science, and scientific collaboration, in order to provide a basis for understanding such ongoing changes. Aims to identify the opportunities and benefits of international collaboration, to consider how they can best be realised, and to initiate a debate on how international scientific collaboration can be harnessed to tackle global problems more effectively.
Aims to help set the agenda for a proposed new Global Compact on Learning. Identifies three key priorities and suggested actions, ­based on a careful review of the latest evidence as well as extensive input from a wide range of global actors.
Guidelines for policy formulation to reconceptualise higher education as a tool for social progress in Africa.
Outlines the scope and extent of the current post-school educational crisis, ­to explore possible solutions through collaboration in the higher education sector.
­This report reflects an analysis of key indicators to assess the fulfi lment of children’s rights in South Africa. Most of the data is derived from Statistics South Africa’s General Household Survey (GHS) which covers six broad areas, education, health, social development, housing, household access to services and facilities, food security and agriculture. Download part one and part two.

Summarises some of the main findings from a research project undertaken by the Social Policy Research Group in the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University.

A review of research into aspects of mathematics teaching focusing on issues relevant to mathematics teachers, to those who support them, and those who make policy decisions about mathematics teaching.

Reviews progress made in education legislation, policy development, curriculum reform and the implementation of new ways of delivering education.

Assembled collaboratively over the past year by several South African civil society organisations (CSOs), this report scrutinises the country’s track record in fighting corruption, managing diversity, addressing xenophobia and racism, managing elections, consolidating democracy and upholding the rule of law, as well as confronting social exclusion and effective service delivery. ­­
Examines the global state of adolescents, outlines the challenges they face in health, education, protection and participation, and argues that investing in them now is our best hope of breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty and inequity and laying the foundation for a more peaceful, tolerant and equitable world.
Attempts to illustrate a link between educational development and the formation of developmental states in East Asia. Presents evidence that education systems contributed to nation-building.
This analysis provides new understandings of current concepts of 'globalisation', 'use-oriented' research, 'knowledge society and economy', and 'national system of innovation'.
Annual review of the status of South Africa’s children focusing on access to education.
Provides an overview and synthesis of the interventions, research and consequences of initiatives related to the demand for and supply of teachers since 1994.
A staff working paper using a human capital earnings function and data from the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey to estimate the effects of education and health status on wages.

Annual country review with the following key findings:

South Africa is advancing, but failing to fully achieve its considerable potential, the macroeconomic policy mix has been insufficiently supportive of growth while allowing large budget deficits to persist, the interaction of weak competition in product markets and dysfunctional labour markets is holding back growth and aggravating unemployment, education is a critical problem, and, greater use of market instruments can help deal with long-term environmental challenges at least cost and with limited demands on scarce administrative capacity.

This report introduces a unique and unprecedented series of data on the state of capacity in Africa. It also examines key issues and challenges confronting in-country and cross-border capacity development.
The third in a series which discusses what needs to be done further in reaching the MDGs,  an abridged version of a much more comprehensive joint Economic Commission for Africa, African Union Commission, and African Development Bank report.
Aims to identify the main challenges confronting the country and examine their underlying causes. Serves to advance the discussion about the major issues confronting South Africa.
Addresses the persistence of education exclusion in countries where there is an explicit commitment to inclusion. Focuses on the qualitative experiences of these excluded groups.

REMINDER of Youth Day seminar today at 12h30.

In the context of Youth Month this seminar asks how youth activism has changed over the past 39 years since the student uprising that began in Soweto in 1976 – over (ostensibly) the issue of the medium of instruction in schools for black youth. Today we ask youth activists from three universities in South Africa to reflect on their experiences on education and transformation. The call to transform South Africa’s academic institutions is on the rise country wide in the wake of the Rhodes Must Fall movement. The transformation agenda is engendering a new form of youth educational activism that is focusing on issues, inter alia, curriculum reform; demographic diversity within the academy; institutional culture and institutional naming. The seminar seeks to engage the voices of students on these and other pertinent issues related to education and transformation in post-apartheid South Africa.

The Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Basic Education, the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), hosted a Policy Dialogue on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in Education in South Africa. In line with global trends South Africa has grown increasingly reliant on information and communication technologies (ICTs) to provide access to information and services. Over the last decade South Africa has witnessed increased investments in this sector by both public and private investors, reaching to 70th place out of 144 countries in Africa on the World Economic Forum’s Global Information Technology Report rankings of 2013. These investments have led to increased use of ICT services across all sectors of the economy, prompting government to intervene with policy instruments to govern and guide the further penetration of ICTs in the country. The recently approved Broadband Policy reflects this commitment to creating an enabling environment, not only for the rollout of broadband infrastructure but also for associated content, applications and services as well.

Attached are presentations from the Policy Dialogue, and reports will be circulated once they have been made available

Presentations from workshop hosted by the Legal Resources Centre, Section27, Equal Education Law Centre, Centre for Child Law and Centre for Applied Legal Studies on 14 and 15 November 2012.

The recent National ECD conference hosted by the National Department of Social Development was a crucial step in the development of an integrated national ECD programme for South Africa. The draft conference declaration was read out by the National Minister of Social Development at the end of the conference. The Director General in the National Department of Social Development highlighted these National ECD Conference Emerging Issues

This workshop report compiled by The Centre for Development and Enterprise is the result of a workshop attended by international and local experts on private schools in low-income communities. Building on experience in other developing countries, the report contains many practical suggestions on how to support low fee private schools in poorer communities.

Essays based on a conference which aimed to ­encourage and facilitate debate about the ethical basis for policy making.
Investigates links between education and poverty reduction, cross-sectoral co-ordination and policy coherence.
Read presentations and background documents from the Summit as well as various forums set up by CEPD­ to discuss related issues.
The Department of Social Development will be hosting a multi stakeholder conference on early childhood develpment (ECD) from 24 to 26 January in East London. The aim is to take stock of progress made on ECD in South Africa and to promote provisioning of quality ECD services for children from birth to school going age.Abstracts should reach the Department by 18 November 2011. ­
A paper from the 48th International Conference on Education, 25-28 November 2008, which reviews progress made in developing the South African education system since 1994.
University World News(Africa edition) coverage of the Stakeholder Summit on Higher Education Transformation held from 22 to 23 April 2010.

Presentation from a seminar which reviewed evidence-based policy-making and the potential role of evaluation as a key, and a systematic, source of evidence. Presented by Dr Ian Goldman, Deputy Director General, Evaluation and Research, DPME,­ The Presidency.­

Workshop report where participants were enabled to apply a knowledge synthesis ­method including: choosing a relevant policy for study, analysing it, performing a literature review (in a way that differs from literature reviews on simple interventions) and organising deliberative processes.
Link: Econ3x3

Econ3x3 is an independent forum for critical public debate on unemployment and employment, income distri­bution and inclu­sive growth in South Africa. It publishes accessible research- based contribu­tions and expert commentaries. The forum encourages debate on an inte­grated and consistent policy response to unemployment, inequality and poverty and a stronger engagement between research and policy making. Econ3x3 invites contributions from economists and other social science researchers, policymakers and relevant experts.

The Citizens Movement was established by senior leaders from politics, academia, business and civil society, under the leadership of founder Dr Mamphela Ramphele, with the aim of building an engaged and active citizenry by building momentum around key areas that affect South African society. The Citizens Movement will:

  • Develop a portal of information that any citizen can access and contribute to
  • Use tools available through social and digital media platforms for face to face engagement that will raise the profile of issues with decision makers and citizens 
  • Provide co-ordinated campaigns for dialogue, direct engagement and peaceful action through an integrated approach using TV, radio, print, website, polls, surveys, mobi and smses.
A new Facebook forum for a national citizens' dialogue, currently working against xenophobia and planning for ­a National Indaba in September 2010.
This network is being developed to distribute research-based information to experts and decision-makers.
This internship offers outstanding graduate-level students the opportunity to acquire direct exposure to IPC-IG’s work as a global forum for policy dialogue and South-South learning on development innovations.
A community of over 1,000 practitioners managing for development results (MfDR) from 37 different African countries and regions across the world.
If you have some ideas on building a better South Africa, please register for and participate in the National Planning Commission (NPC)­ Jam (an online brainstorming event from noon on 28 September until noon on 1 October). Additional information can also be found here. ­
Presents ideas and methods­ to implement a human rights-based approach to education.
­A social movement working for quality and equality in South African education, through analysis and activism.
CIPPEC, a leading think tank in Argentina will award 12 scholarships to participate in the third edition of this online training programme developed jointly with Global Development Network (GDN)­ which will start by the end of August 2011.­

Issue five of the newsletter ­From Evidence to Action looks at the education system in South Africa, ­in particular how­ evidence informed policies can be implemented to address many of the problems it faces.­

Download the second issue of the Policy > Action Network newsletter and email [email protected] if you would like to make comments or submissions for the next issue.
This campaign calls for greater public participation in education in South Africa.

Consolidation of the State of the Nation and State of the Province addresses prepared by André Viviers, Senior Social Policy Specialist, UNICEF South Africa.

From Evidence into Action looks at various issues relating to social policy in South Africa and has a particular focus on the ‘how to’ of evidence-based policy-making. In this issue we look at early childhood development (ECD) and why it is so important for the future of our country. We speak to deputy representative of UNICEF in South Africa, George Laryea-Adjei, and learn more about ECD policy processes and resource allocation – and where there are gaps. Our case study compares ECD with that of another important policy, the Child Support Grant (CSG), and provides a list of important elements which should be included in the policy-making process. We present ome helpful tips on impact evaluations as well and, as always, a variety of useful resources.

In this first issue of From Evidence to Action for 2012, we look at networks and, specifically, the role they play in changing policy. Our feature article, Getting the most out of policy networks, examines what a network actually is and what makes them effective. Through the example of the Regional Network on Equity in Health in Southern Africa, EQUINET, our case study further explores how to build networks and how they can be used to influence policy. We also find out more about the Policy Action Network, how to manage a Community of Practice. 

The right to education for children aged 5-18 years is one in a series of topical guides developed for PAN:Children that provides key information on the current state of affairs in South Africa related to  access to quality education. It highlights practical guidance, lessons learned and case studies (both national and international) that will be helpful in policy development dialogue and knowledge sharing.

Extensive literature review on kno­wledge and policy in the health and education sectors.

Government policy & legislation

NDP 2030

The National Development Plan (NDP) aims to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030. According to the plan, South Africa can realise these goals by drawing on the energies of its people, growing an inclusive economy, building capabilities, enhancing the capacity of the state, and promoting leadership and partnerships throughout society. The popular version in all official languages and two-page illustrated versions are also available.

 

Presidency State of the Nation home page with additional information and links.­
A policy speaking to the needs of the educational system, drawing on constitutional requirements.
The Presidency has published the National Evaluation Draft Policy Framework for public comment. Comments can be emailed to Dr Ian Goldman at [email protected] by 30 September 2011. For enquiries call Dr Ian Goldman at (012) 308 1918. ­­
­Policies from 1997 to 2007 which are listed on the Department of  Education website.