The Zenex Foundation has always supported a range of capacity building initiatives in the field of Mathematics, Science and language education. However, these were located in different Programmes, including Communications and Projects.
The Five-year Strategy for 2014 - 2018 proposed that Zenex contributions toward capacity building be consolidated through a dedicated programme area as this would result in a more deliberate and coordinated effort to strengthen the sector.
Sector Strengthening refers to a range of initiatives that are aimed at building the capacity of key strategic elements of the education support sector. A strengthened education support sector is necessary to ensure quality delivery of programmes.
The proposed Programme consolidates Zenex’s efforts to support the sector. This includes: supporting professional bodies, supporting the networking and sharing of lessons through dialogues and seminars, and fostering the development of key strategic networks such as Bridge and the Private Philanthropy Circle.
Building professional bodies
Professional Associations contribute to skills and knowledge building in the sector through creating forums for teachers, researchers/academics, NGOs and government officials to engage in discussions and debates about research, practice and policy. With respect to professional bodies, Zenex supports AMESA (Association of Mathematics Education of South Africa); SAASTE (South African Association of Science and Technology Educators); RASA (Reading Association of South Africa); and SAMEA (South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association).
Supporting networking and sharing of lessons across the sector
Better coordinated stakeholder alliances allow for the sharing of ideas and increase the opportunity for collaboration and partnerships. By creating opportunities to share, good practices can be duplicated and poor practices can be avoided. From Zenex’s experience of participation in such forums, they also create the potential for partnerships between funders.
With respect to this area of work, Zenex has been involved in the following:
- ongoing participation in key forums such as the Centre for Development and Enterprise Mathematics and Science Forum, the Private Philanthropy Circle (PPC) and other related CSI forums/conferences to network;
- engagement with a range of donors with a view to collaborating in co-funding Projects; and
- support for the work of BRIDGE.
The BRIDGE Project aims to link educational stakeholders at a national, provincial and local level. It plays a strategic role in creating opportunities for different stakeholders to meet, share knowledge and develop partnerships. BRIDGE mobilises stakeholders around key thematic areas namely, Mathematics and Science, Teacher Professional Development, Tertiary Access, School Leadership and Support, and Monitoring and Evaluation.
In recent years, BRIDGE has developed a network base of over 3,000 members from more than 650 organisations. In addition, it has developed a repository of good practice case studies and documents for sharing across the sector.
Zenex has supported BRIDGE to establish the Mathematics and Science Community of Practice over a number of years. An external evaluation commissioned by Zenex indicated that BRIDGE is occupying an increasingly important niche space in the present educational context.
Zenex supports programmes that enable the sector to share ideas and engage in dialogue. This includes professional bodies and communities of practice. This area provides platforms for teachers, researchers/academics, NGOs and government officials to engage in discussions and debates that are aimed at enhancing their practices.