October 7, 2014

Bridge Communities of Practice

This project supports networking and sharing across the education community and builds communities of practice in Mathematics, Science and Language.

Evaluation Report

Name of Organisation /service provider: BRIDGE

Name of Project /Intervention: Grant for the Mathematics and Science Community of Practice and Knowledge Management

Duration of Project: June 2014 - December 2016

Where is the Project based: National: Head Office in Gauteng

Activities supported: Support for Mathematics and Science Community of Practice and Knowledge Management

1. Introduction

BRIDGE was established in 2009 to link educational stakeholders at the national, provincial and local levels around key issues in the education system. BRIDGE's methodology is to establish Communities of Practice (CoPs) and provide a Knowledge Management function of documenting and disseminating information related to five education focus areas: Mathematics and Science, School Leadership, Teacher Development, Early Childhood Development and ICTs in education. From 2009 to 2013 BRIDGE established 12 CoPs (in the five education focus areas mainly operating in Gauteng and the Western Cape) and developed a network base of over 3,000 members from over 650 organisations. BRIDGE now hosts 61 meetings a year as part of the CoP Programme.

1.1 BRIDGE methodology

  • BRIDGE convenes and facilitates Community of Practice meetings nationally, provincially and at district level. The CoPs are multi-stakeholder and are co-created and co-owned by members.
  • BRIDGE facilitation methodology follows a structured framework and is carried out by trained facilitators.
  • BRIDGE engages in monitoring and evaluation of its communities’ activities against specific outcomes that relate to the spreading of good practice and the impact on policy.
  • BRIDGE provides a knowledge management function to support the work of the COPs, as well as collate information and disseminate it to a broader education audience through various communication platforms.

2. Problems to be addressed

BRIDGE was established to foster an ethos of trust in a highly fragmented sector by providing safe spaces where stakeholders openly share challenges and practices and provide mutual support. BRIDGE has maximised resources by drawing on various members’ voluntary contributions, facilitating joint projects and spreading effective practices.

3. Details of the Zenex Foundation support

Zenex funds two aspects of BRIDGE's programme, namely:

  1. The Mathematics and Science CoP which aims to decrease duplication and competition, and maximise collective efforts of stakeholders working in the Mathematics and Science field at school level.
  1. Maintenance and expansion of the existing Knowledge Management Programme which aims to provide a repository of education research and practice in the five education focus areas.

3.1 Mathematics and Science Community of Practice

The Zenex Foundation has supported the Mathematics and Science CoP since 2009. The CoP has gained significant momentum and traction over the years. It is made up of a network of over 300 members from over 130 organisations (from government, donors, civil society organisations and research organisations). They meet quarterly on a face-to-face basis, and engage virtually (using BRIDGE’s range of communication platforms) between meetings. The work of this CoP has led to a number of partnerships between funders. Besides the networking and sharing of practice, several ‘products’ have emerged from this CoP, such as the mapping of donor funding in Mathematics and Science in the Gauteng province, mapping teacher development interventions and the development of a framework to understand tertiary access.

3.2  Knowledge management

BRIDGE’s Knowledge Management Programme serves not only BRIDGE members, but also the broader education sector. BRIDGE’s current Knowledge Management Programme encompasses:

  • Collating published research and education information in the five focus areas and documenting information from the various CoPs.
  • Translating   information into useable knowledge in the form of Learning Briefs.  Disseminating and distributing information to multiple stakeholders within the education sector. The dissemination platforms include a website, an online community network, social media platforms, a YouTube Channel and a media partnership with Mail and Guardian and ARGO.

4. Specific results to be achieved from the Zenex Foundation support

Funding from Zenex Foundation will facilitate:

  • Greater coordination and collaboration between funders, service providers and government.
  • Increased partnerships and joint funded initiatives.
  • A knowledge hub that serves the education sector.

5. Alignment to the Zenex strategy

This project is strategically aligned to the Zenex Foundation’s vision to build the capacity of the education sector. BRIDGE aptly fulfils the Zenex Foundation’s Sector Building Programme’s purpose of supporting networking and sharing lessons across the sector through dialogues and strategic networks.

BRIDGE presents an innovative model of coordinating stakeholder groupings to increase the opportunity for collaboration and partnerships. BRIDGE programmes create opportunities for education stakeholders to share, where best practices can be duplicated and streamlined through co-funding and co-created projects. Participation in the BRIDGE CoPs provides an opportunity for Zenex to share research-based evidence on interventions. The networking provides access to a range of stakeholders working in the same field as Zenex, providing opportunities for building and sourcing new partnerships, creating more equity in the sector and developing synergies where none existed previously.

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