Since 2011, the Zenex Foundation has been at the forefront of supporting initial teacher education (ITE) internships, with three different organisations, namely, Teach South Africa, Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa (ISASA) and Inanda Seminary’s Khanyisa Project. The aim of supporting these organisations has been to improve the quality of ITE, particularly the knowledge and the practice components. The Zenex Foundation published a comprehensive Learning Brief to disseminate the insights and lessons derived from these interventions and their outcomes in order to inform the wider policy debate on ITE.

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Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is an important and integral part of the Zenex Foundation funding approach. It is important to our ongoing learning, informing project design and rollout and adds to the body of evidence about education interventions. When Zenex started to embed M&E practices within the organisation, there was a high level of buy-in from the Zenex Board, who recognised the importance of this approach.  Our Board members have been strong proponents of M&E to drive an evidence-based strategy.

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The Zenex Foundation recently attended the 7th Biennial South African Monitoring and Evaluation Association Conference. The Zenex CEO, Gail Campbell, was invited to speak on a panel in the strand that focused on the current practice of M&E in the NPO sector. The aim of strand was to create a space for multisectoral conversation among NPOs, Government, Academia, M&E capacity building institutions and donors. This article is a summary of the input made by Ms Gail Campbell.

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We will continue to pursue partnerships and collaborative efforts to improve learning outcomes. We recognise that now more than ever, coordinated and collaborative approaches have a better chances of greater impact at scale.

We remain dedicated to continue working with implementing partners and schools through the COVID-19 crisis by:

  • Maintaining regular contact with our partners to keep abreast of their organisational health and capability to continue work.
  • Refocusing affected projects in consultation with partners and aligned to their focus areas and strengths, to contribute to the DBE’s Recovery Plan.
  • Supporting schools (School Management Teams and teachers) where we currently have projects.

1. Focus areas

  • Supporting mathematics and language education in the Foundation and Senior Phases.
  • The disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will require a focus on both learning at home and at school. Zenex will provide the necessary resources for parents and teachers, to address learning losses and backlogs.
  • Consistent with our principle to build knowledge and understanding of what works and does not work in education support, all projects will have an evaluation or research component.

2. Project approval and monitoring cycle

We have:

  • blended our traditional practice of funding medium- to long-term programmes, with short-term, innovative programmes to accelerate the roll out of solutions,
  • adopted fast turn-around times for proposals,
  • relaxed our reporting requirements to enable partners to focus on programme work.
  • To understand developments on the ground, we conduct ongoing consultations with our partners and beneficiaries.
  • Where context and capabilities change, we adapt our approach to ensure uninterrupted support.

The immediacy of COVID-19 requires us to be flexible and agile while still adhering to good grant-making practices.

Non-profit organisations (NPOs) make a significant contribution to the education sector in South Africa. Their diversity, reach and innovative solutions make them strong partners to both government and business in South Africa.
However, in many cases NPOs are just not heard, invited or consulted in important decision-making processes that affect them.

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Researchers, donors and implementers of coaching programmes from across the country gathered at the Zenex Foundation Symposium in October 2019 to share their experiences and learnings on coaching in education. Read the high-level summary of key take-outs from the Symposium here.

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The Zenex Foundation produced a Literature Review of Coaching in Education, drawing on international literature and the evaluations. The review provides a comprehensive background on practices and approaches to coaching as a way to inform the policy, practice, funding and research of future coaching interventions in South Africa.

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The Zenex Foundation believes that reading is the most important skill that learners need throughout their schooling career.  Reading is the foundation of literacy.  Learning to read starts in the Foundation Phase.  Our Foundation Phase teachers need to be expert reading teachers. Outlined below is the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that Foundation Phase teachers need to be expert reading teachers. 

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Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) is an important and integral part of the Zenex Foundation funding approach. It is important to our ongoing learning, informing project design and rollout and adds to the body of evidence about education interventions. When Zenex started to embed M&E practices within the organisation, there was a high level of buy-in from the Zenex Board, who recognised the importance of this approach. Our Board have been strong proponents of M&E to drive an evidence-based strategy. Our M&E approach includes, planning and budgeting for M&E activities, developing internal M&E capacity and using evaluations for learning and influencing policy and practice in the evaluation sector.

Download the full document here.

ERA (in partnership with PDG) have been commissioned by the ZENEX Foundation to undertake a landscape study of M&E (with a specific focus on Educational Evaluation) in South Africa.
The report follows the outline of the Terms of Reference and the findings related to each section are discussed under a separate section heading. The methodology followed with regard to each task, as well as additional information pertaining to each section, is found in the Appendices of this report.
The authors would like to thank all individuals who have participated in the study: academics at universities who have provided us with information, the respondents to the survey of donors as well as those who have been interviewed for more qualitative inputs. We also have to thank staff at CREST and PDG who have assisted with specific data inputs, including Herman Redlinghuys, Kyle Ford, Nozipho Ngwabi, Cara Hartley, Lerato Shai and Comfort Molefinyana.

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The evaluation of the Zenex Literacy Project (ZenLit) was conducted by the Evaluation Research Agency (ERA), based at the Stellenbosch University. The Project was evaluated over a three-year period (from 2014 – 2017), using a framework which included repeated measures testing and control schools.

The learner placement projects selects learners with potential from disadvantaged and low performing schools and places them into high performing functional schools. The Zenex Foundation has funded two learner placement projects: Independent Schools Association of South Africa – Maths and English (ISASA M&E) since 2006, and Inkanyezi (a collective name for the group of public schools selected in KNZ) since 2009.

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The purpose of this document is to offer a framework for effective collaboration among South African grant-makers and social investors. This framework sets out guidelines for effective collaboration and provides practical suggestions for initiating it. Case study examples are used to illustrate different approaches to collaboration.

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Initial Teacher Education (ITE) in South Africa currently experiences three major problems in delivering high quality teachers capable of effective teaching:

  • an inadequate supply of teachers for the schooling system;
  • the poor quality of some Initial Teacher Education programmes which results in the majority of newly qualified teachers (NQTs) being inadequate to the tasks facing them in schools across the country; and
  • the generally poor quality of distance education and the large part it plays in the total provision of new teachers.

The traditional form of ITE in South Africa follows the international norm – a four-year university-based programme – and is provided by 23 universities, either by face-to-face or distance education.