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“Knowledge has no value unless you use and share it.” These words from Mehwish Mahrukh encapsulate the Zenex Foundation’s theme in 2018.

At the end of 2017, the Zenex Foundation completed a stakeholder survey to gauge our stakeholders' perceptions of the Foundation. The feedback from the survey was intended to inform our future strategy and influence our communications. Among the key findings was a strong call for more frequent and regular information and knowledge about the Foundation’s work, activities and developments.

Zenex Foundation has recently said goodbye to a key staff member who we’ll miss! But we are also happy to welcome some young blood to the team.

In April 2018, Zenex bid farewell to Dr Andile Dube, who joined Zenex in 2015 as Senior Programme Manager responsible for Systemic Programmes, and had been promoted to Director of Programmes by the time of her departure. She left Zenex to take on the exciting opportunity of heading up the Vodacom Foundation - Education.

The Zenex Foundation bids farewell to two respected and long-serving members of the Board, Dr Jane Hofmeyr and Sir Michael Oliver, who retired as Trustees in 2017 after 20 and 14 years of service respectively.

While saying goodbye is never easy, it has afforded their fellow Trustees and staff the opportunity to reflect on decades of meaningful contributions and achievements spearheaded by the two Trustees. As Board members, Jane and Michael have built deep institutional memory which has, over the years, cascaded down to Zenex staff and forms the cornerstone of a solid, stable, yet flexible organisation. Looking back on their tenure has been an exercise in gratitude.

The Zenex Foundation is delighted that one of its own Trustees, Sindi Mabaso-Koyana, has been appointed as a Board member at Eskom.

Earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced Mabaso-Koyana’s appointment as one of the new Board members of the State-Owned Enterprise. The appointment of a new Eskom Board comes at a time in South Africa’s history where there is a heightened sense of hope for accountability in leadership and deliberate efforts to root out corruption.

The Zenex Foundation is delighted to announce that two learners from Ethembeni Enrichment Centre in Port Elizabeth, who are part of the Zenex Sakha Ikamva Project, were recent winners at the English Olympiad at the Schools Festival in Grahamstown. Vuyolwethu Memani came 4th and Sesethu Kasper came 16th in the 2018 English First Additional Language (FAL) Top 20. Congratulations to them both; they have done us proud. 

The Top 8 candidates at the Olympiad win scholarships to Rhodes University for their first year of study in any field of study.  The Top 10 FAL winners receive cash prizes. Consequently, Vuyolwethu wins a first-year scholarship to Rhodes and a cash prize! Well done, Vuyo!

The Zenex Foundation commissioned a landscape review of South African medium to large scale intervention programmes that are aimed at improving learning and teaching in Mathematics. The study provides a picture of the state of interventions in the country, recommendations from experts, and a review of the literature.

Zenex Foundation CEO Gail Campbell reviews the education and grant making environment across four different democratic-era presidents

South Africa has had an interesting 2018 to date, and the strong links between politics, education and grant making are as evident as before.

Politics has been at the epicentre of our lives in South Africa and, certainly, in the first quarter of 2018, we experienced a period of political milestones. We celebrated the 26th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1992, and we had a president resign and a new president elected. These changes resulted in a heightened sense of energy and hopes for a more accountable government with deliberate efforts to root out corruption.

By Henre Benson, Chief Operations Office: CASME (Twitter @henreb)

The Monitoring and Evaluation experience of implementers of education interventions can be traumatic. NGOs, already stretched to capacity, face the prospect of their internal processes being brought under scrutiny, deliverables and dosages counted and outcomes tested. The reality is that in many cases the impact is unclear and attribution is nearly always uncertain. Nobody sets out to fail. Most interventions are based on a theory of change, model or idea (whether rigorously tested or just drawn from years of experience) and a belief that what is intended will work. In many cases that belief is well founded as these initiatives are changing lives. There are countless personal stories of learners, schools and teachers presented with new opportunities, brighter futures and hope as a result of training, support or an essential resource provided.

By Melissa King

Not so long ago, evaluation was considered a specialist niche area of expertise: a mysterious and highly technical undertaking only to be carried out by the initiated. There is growing recognition, however, that M&E processes and frameworks are an essential part of all education project work, and that those involved in programmes aiming to improve learner outcomes need to strengthen their understanding of the goals, methodologies and practices of M&E. There is a need to build our collective capacity in M&E, not just as individuals, but as a community working for educational change. Monitoring and evaluation is everyone’s responsibility.

Picture this scene: It is 10 am on a Monday morning, and the room is filled with evaluators, programme managers, implementers, funders, policymakers and beneficiaries. As joint stakeholders vested in the success of their programme, they have gathered to agree on an evaluation framework which will guide the evaluation. However, whilst some of them understand the meeting’s purpose and know how to proceed with the task at hand, others have never even heard of a ‘theory of change,’ let alone previously seen an evaluation framework. The meeting progresses then, with a few voices tending to dominate the discussion as the others scramble to keep up with proceedings.

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