Since 1994, education policy has been through various development-implementation-revision cycles. School access, governance, curriculum, teacher deployment and financial regulations have all gone through the policy mill. The ambitions of that time have in many cases been rolled back in the face of financial and capacity constraints and policy has increasingly been refined in order to create better efficiencies and outcomes. It has also resulted in a number of unintended consequences and contradictions that manifested in implementation.
This paper provides a brief overview of the trends in policy effecting equity and quality in the South African education environment. This analysis traces some of the key policy imperatives and shows the shifts in policy from access to quality and performance, from decentralisation to more streamlined and centralised education approaches. What it also suggests is that the continuous policy revisions, particularly at curriculum level, have resulted in extreme challenges with implementation as policies are not given sufficient time to be embedded and adapted on the ground.
Congratulations go to Okuhle Tamela, a Grade 12 learner at New Forest High School in KwaZulu-Natal, for achieving 7th position out of 7,300 learners in the Grahamstown Schools English Festival. This performance secured her a bursary from Rhodes University for her first year of study.
Okuhle is a Zenex learner in the Inkayezi Project, through which Zenex Foundation partners with eleven high schools in KwaZulu-Natal in support of mathematics, science and English education. One of the ways in which the Foundation promotes excellence in these subjects is through encouraging learner participation in olympiads and festivals. The Foundation prepares and supports a group of learners to attend and participate in these fairs on an annual basis.
In 2012, the Zenex Foundation took a group of 40 Grade 12 learners from various project schools to attend the Grahamstown National Schools English Festival held from 8 – 12 July. The Foundation has a history dating back to 2009, of supporting learners to attend this festival. The deemed benefits of attendance and participation range from learner exposure to English literacy, to stretching the participants' creative thinking and writing abilities. Throughout the years, Zenex-supported learners have shined at the festival. We congratulate Okuhle for carrying the torch of excellence in 2012.
The Zenex Foundation launched its five-year strategy review at a breakfast seminar on 16 April 2012 at Melrose Arch, Johannesburg. Two Zenex Foundation Trustees, Mr Sizwe Nxasana, Chairman of the Board, and Dr Jane Hofmeyr were in attendance. Representatives from donors, NGO's, researchers, evaluators and academics came to engage with the Zenex Foundation around the evolution of a strategy conceptualised and rolled out since 2006.
Three speakers, Mr Godwin Khosa from JET Education Services, Prof. Mary Metcalfe from the Development Bank of Southern Africa and Prof. Johann Mouton from Evaluation Research Agency, spoke on wider education development issues with specific reference to the Zenex Foundation strategy.
This served to deepen the discussion around our strategy and located the strategy within the broader education context. The topics discussed, namely, the role of partnerships in education development; trends in education development and support, and the importance of an evaluation culture in education development projects illustrated the trajectory of education today.
The review booklet was well received. It covers the work of the Zenex Foundation from 2006 to 2011 and lessons learnt over this period though evaluation, research and practice. The Foundation has since received very positive feedback from our partners and stakeholders in education, which has added to the vigour with which we approach the remaining years of the 10-year strategy roll out. It was also evident that there is increasing need for collaboration in the sector to enhance the reach and quality of our work. The launch served as a good platform for bringing stakeholders together.
An electronic copy of the review booklet is available for download under the Materials page on this site. We also welcome walk-in visitors at our offices who wish to have hard copies of the booklet.
Places 1, 2 and 3 in the 2009 systemic evaluation in the Western Cape went to Zenex-Spark Project schools. The Project held a celebratory award ceremony in honour of the schools. Vukani Primary was in 1st place, with Weltevreden and Samora Machel Primary Schools in 2nd and 3rd place respectively.
The schools were part of the Zenex-Spark Project which falls within the broader Zenex School Development Programme. The programme runs interventions in high schools and feeder primary schools. The Zenex Foundation took an integrated approach to educational development in its partnership with schools that demonstrate potential to improve their performance. Scheduled to run from 2006 to 2011, the programme has supported four provincially-based projects (the Spark Project in the Western Cape, the Mbuyu Project in Limpopo, the Izibalo Project in KwaZulu-Natal, and the Schools of Excellence Project in Gauteng) undertaken in partnership with the respective education districts.
The aim of the School Development Programme is to improve learner performance in mathematics, science and language by using a pipeline approach across primary and high school levels. At primary school level the mathematics focus is placed on two learning areas (LO1 and LO4). The model involves training teachers in content, providing support in the classroom and providing resources. The intervention supports literacy at all phases by using a graded reading approach across Grades 1 to 6.
The achievement of the three schools is testimony that a targeted approach to school support can bear fruit.
Five out of ten Zenex learners at New Forest High School in KwaZulu-Natal have been appointed to leadership positions at the school. At yet another Inkanyezi school, another learner also got a nod for their leadership qualities. Zenex salutes:
From New Forest High School:
Nonkululeko Zondo: Head Girl
Subisiso Mqwati: Head Boy
Phumelele Yeni: Deputy Head Girl
Lungile Njakazi: Prefect
Kubenderan Pillay: Prefect
From Northwood School:
Thando Cele: Deputy Head Boy
With an intensive academic, mentorship and leaderships skills programme, the Zenex-Inkanyezi Project, rolled out in 11 schools in KwaZulu-Natal since 2009 and scheduled to run until 2013, these are but emerging signs that the Project is beginning to deliver desired results.