Zenex Foundation hosted the International Education Funders Group (IEFG) meeting on 26-28 February 2018. The IEFG is a member-led learning and collaborating network for foundations, donor-advised funds, and other private grantmakers. The theme was Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning: Strengthening our Practice and our Field and this was the first time it was held in Africa. The IEFG meeting was a great opportunity for the Zenex team to share ideas and network with other funders working in education. This meeting, through the rich discussions, highlighted the importance of creating spaces for donors to share experiences on what works and what does not work.
In the age of information overload, creative ways of communicating complex information in concise yet meaningful ways are desperately needed. For the Zenex Foundation, which prides itself in being evidence-based, this need is more palpable given that research and evaluation findings are invariably presented in text-heavy, bulky reports. To foster sharing and learning, these reports need to be effectively disseminated in a way that allows audiences to easily engage with the information. Better engagement promotes uptake and utilisation. Enter Data Visualisation - the buzzword in communicating concepts relying more on visuals rather than only on text.
The Zenex Foundation shared the results of its High School Learner Programme at a knowledge-sharing breakfast held in Johannesburg during October 2017. They shared the evaluation findings from a high school intervention which had tested whether learner support can improve maths and science outcomes, which was implemented over a 10 year period.
The Zenex Foundation is active and influential in promoting the use of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in educational interventions in South Africa, and it is driven by an evidence-based approach. The Foundation hosted a session on evaluation design at the recent South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association (SAMEA) conference, which was held in Johannesburg in October 2017.
The Zenex Foundation has a keen interest in the areas of literacy and reading. The Foundation supports initiatives designed to innovate, research and test system level application to improve outcomes in education. These have been shared in a wide range of forums. A panel arranged by the Zenex Foundation, presented an aspect of Zenex’s research and interventions in literacy and language development. The presentations shared insights emerging from programmes in home language and first additional language interventions on reading to learn in the later grades.
Many South African children complete Grades 1 - 3 without being able to read properly in their home language. Recent research confirms that this reality not only impacts on literacy and language development, but also on Mathematics and Science performance.
The Foundation hosted a Conference and Appreciation Event at Durban’s Elangeni and Maharani Hotel on 19 August 2016 to mark the end of the Zenex Learner Support Programme which has been rolled out since 2005. The Programme comprises the ISASA M&E Project and the Inkanyezi Project, which are fielding the last cohort of Grade 12 learners in 2016. The Conference was attended by over 120 individuals from the project schools and their peer and neighbouring schools from across the country, as well as district representatives from various education districts in KwaZulu-Natal.