January 24, 2020

Molteno African Language Readers and Organisational Development

This project is focused on the development of Vula Bula African Language Readers in eight South African languages by Molteno. The project also supports the reengineering of Molteno as they implement the Open Education Resources Model.

Molteno Institute African Readers and Organisational Re-engineering

Name of Organisation/ Service Provider: Molteno Institute for Language and Literacy

Programme Area: Research & Development

Duration of Project: 2015 - 2018

Where is the Project based: National                                                                

1. Introduction and Background

Since its inception, the Zenex Foundation has been involved in the development of African Language readers with a range of NGOs. In 2009 Zenex funded Molteno to develop the Vula Bula series (which is a graded reading series) in two languages (isiXhosa and IsiZulu) at Grade 1 level. In 2011, through SAIDE (South African Institute for Distance Education), GPLMS (Gauteng Primary Literacy and Mathematics Strategy) undertook an extensive evaluation of several African language readers that were in the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) schools. The evaluators commended the quality of the content and the methodology used to develop the Vula Bula readers using a phonics approach. Thus in 2011 the GDE contracted Molteno to develop the Vula Bula series building from the two languages initially funded by Zenex. This entailed the development of six African language readers for Grade 1 (SeSwati was excluded given the limited number of learners who speak this language). In 2013, Zenex approved funding for the extension of the Vula Bula series to Grade 2 and 3 as part of the GPLMS. In summary, the three phases of the development of Graded Readers by Molteno Vula Bula Series was funded by the GDE and Zenex.

2. Problem statement

The current challenge can be framed by the following statements:

  1. The various provincial and national departments of education are limited by the tender process (PFMA) if the materials are not provided as open educational resources. Further complicating the tender process is that the Vula Bula series is not on the official LTSM list of government recommended materials which means that currently Molteno cannot even respond to such a tender.
  2. As access is dependent on Molteno being on the list and getting selected as a service provider, access to the readers is compromised and is antithesis to Zenex’s mission of achieving open access for public good.

Following investigation, it was realised that Open Education Resources (OER’s) is the best route to follow in order to maximise access. The Foundation and Molteno explored the possibilities of offering the Vula Bula Series as an Open Education Resources (OER) to find solutions that would benefit the public interest without compromising the sustainability of the service provider and the investments of the funder.

3. Details of the intervention

In order for Molteno to implement the new business model, based on sharing all its educational resources and content freely under the Creative Commons licence, they plan to review and streamline their current business processes, design the new business model and undertake a Change Management process to implement the new business model. A plan of the implementation of the new business model includes repackaging their current content for online platforms whilst simultaneously developing new content, marketing and promoting their materials and training services. This has been undertaken to facilitate the move to OERs while ensuring that the sustainability of Molteno as an NGO is not compromised.

Molteno has recognised the need to reinvent itself in line with the demands of the changing environment. Their need for change is attributed to the trends in the global environment including an explosion in the global access to ICT, specifically the internet influencing how societies function, digitising of information influencing how educational content is developed and shared and the growing pressure for governments to find more cost effective strategies to deliver educational content.

Against this backdrop, Molteno has agreed to shift from the Educational ‘Publisher’ model which relies on protecting Intellectual Property (IP) for revenue to an Open Education Resource model.

Zenex is funding the process of adopting a different business model at Molteno, which entails:

  1. Further development of Molteno’s educational resources to ensure that we are able to present a comprehensive suite of literacy materials under open licences for use by government and schools.
  2. Packaging and release – via the Molteno website – of all Molteno’s educational resources under Creative Commons licences, combined with an integrated payment gateway and printing/distribution capability that allows cheap purchase of high quality printed versions of these materials online, either individually or in bulk purchases.
  3. Review and streamlining of Molteno’s core services to ensure that they are both contextually relevant and up-to-date and provide clear, sustainable business opportunities for the organization.
  4. Development of a dedicated research and evaluation service focused on literacy, which aims to provide services in completing feasibility studies, policy research reports, academic papers, evaluations of Molteno and other literacy interventions, and other related research activities.
  5. Design and implementation of a change management strategy to support Molteno in making a successful transition to its new business model.

4. Conclusion

There is consensus that the world is moving towards open education resources and open access, especially to public and donor funded books, readers and related resources. South Africa is one of the early movers in OER development, with the convening of a lively workshop by the Shuttleworth Foundation in 2007, which resulted in the drafting of the Cape Town Open Education Declaration, which emphasized the developmental power of collaborative and open development of educational resources.

In general, learning delivery is changing to being collaborative and interactive, based online and using multiple media, capable of modularisation and adaptation and incorporating OER where desirable. Different models are used to provide for open access. Open licencing for example, has been used to allow open access to material. Creative Commons licences are a legal tool that makes it possible to make material available at no cost.

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