| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The programme action plan involved the following steps:
1. The programme plan is approved annually and budget allocated. The mandate to implement has been given to the Sci-Bono Discovery centre. As an arm’s length institution, the organisation is able to use innovative and non-conventional procedures in managing the project.
2. Sci-Bono convenes teams of selected district officials in each of Gauteng’s 15 education districts. The proposed teams are sanctioned by GDE’s senior management.
3. The district implementation teams (DIT) annually select central programme venues to act as programme sites and identify high performing teachers as potential programme tutors. These recommendations are forwarded to Sci-Bono, which then contracts the sites and tutors.
4. Sci-Bono invites transport and printing service providers to bid to service the programme. Sci-Bono has developed standard rates for services on the basis of cost plus a small margin. The rates are lower than the market rate. All qualified service providers that respond are invited to participate but at the standard rate.
5. The department of education communicated the programme to schools, school governing bodies and their umbrella associations, learners and learner representative bodies, parent bodies, teacher unions, community structures and other role players. Agreement and support from all representative structures was agreed.
6. The programme was implemented according to an agreed calendar of dates. The programme has involved about 50 000 Grade 12 learners annually. (It also offer support to about 90 000 Grade 10 and 11 learners, but only during school holidays)
7. The formal programme is expanded to include motivational talks by volunteers such as professional motivational speakers and celebrities such as musicians and sports people.
8. Services such as transport and printing are closely monitored.
9. Funding is transferred monthly to school sites to arrange basic catering for learners. The allocation is based on verified previous attendance numbers.
10. All tutor claims are paid by Sci-Bono, after 3 levels of verification and 2 layers of checking.
The annual calendar is summarised as follows:
Oct – Dec: Planning for the following year
Feb – Sept: Implementation of weekend and school holiday programme
Oct: 2 week intensive supplementary tuition camps
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The following stakeholders were involved directly in implementing the programme:
• The Gauteng Department of Education’s Executive Management Team
• The GDE’s Curriculum, Quality Assurance, Intervention, Communications Directorates
• The GDE’s District Directors and officials
• The Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, an NGO with links to the GDE
• Tutors: 4 000 part-time contracted teachers, academics and students
• Priority high schools. (385 under-performing high schools in poverty affected areas)
• About 50 000 Grade 12 learners (and 90 000 Grade 10 and 11 learners)
The following stakeholders were involved indirectly inn supporting the programme:
• School Governing Bodies (SGB) and SGB Associations
• Teacher unions
• Learner Representative Councils
• Ward counsellors and Community representative organisations
• Faith Based community structures
• Political party provincial constituency offices
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Funding: The programme costs about R140 million annually. The bulk of the funding is allocated by the Gauteng Department of Education and this is supplemented by donor funding from private sector corporate social investment.
Services are procured according to a fixed rate which is based on cost recovery plus a minimal margin. All relevant service providers on Sci-Bono’s database are invited to participate, but not all agree.
Technical: All educational, logistical and technical resources and services are provided by the Sci-Bono Discovery Centre, a science centre and NGO with links to the department of education. The programme has 140 physical sites, most of which are public schools which are chosen as they are centrally located and can be reached by most participants.
Services such as transport, printing and catering are outsourced to providers who agree to supply services at the fixed rate set by Sci-Bono.
Human: The programme contracts about 4 000 tutors annually. These are teachers who sign part-time contracts to work on weekends and during school holidays. There are site managers are each of the 140 sites. District office officials manage the programme sessions in their districts. Staff from the department’s Curriculum, Quality Assurance, Intervention, Communications Directorates assist in monitoring programme implementation but do this without compensation for the additional time spend on weekends. Sci-Bono has a dedicated programme office of 15 people to implement and manage the programme.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
1. The provincial Grade 12 pass rate has improved each year for the 3 years that the programme has run. In 2009 the provincial pass rate was 72%. By 2012, the pass rate had improved to 84%, with Gauteng being the best performing province in South Africa.
2. The pass rate in critical subjects increased significantly in under-performing schools. In mathematics the pass rate improved from 34% in 2009 to 55% in 2012. In physical science, the pass rate improved from 25% in 2009 to 60% in 2012. Similar and greater improvements are evident in the other subjects offered in the programme.There has been a change in the profile of top performing learners in Gauteng who historically came almost entirely from affluent schools. Since the implementation of the Strategy, the balance has shifted and an increasing number of top performers now come from township schools.
3. The situation in under-performing schools has changed significantly and the gap between them and schools in affluent areas has narrowed. In 2009, only 1 priority school achieved a Grade 12 pass rate of over 90%. In 2012 there were 40 priority schools that achieved pass rates of above 90%. Schools with pass rates of under 30% have declined from 30 in 2009 to 1 in 2012. In 2009, there were 6 learners who achieved distinctions in physical science; In 2012 there were 251 distinctions.
4. The programme has allowed thousands of learners from poverty afflicted communities to achieve levels of success that qualify them to enter higher education and training and which give them access to bursary funding and scholarships. It has changed learners’ attitudes to learning and helped build self-esteem.
5. The SSIP initiative has evolved from being seen as a short term intervention to becoming adopted as an element of conventional support for schools in disadvantaged communities. It is widely supported by all stakeholders and seen as one of the most impactful interventions in redressing the legacy of Apartheid. It has been one of the most successful projects in uniting a wide range of community stakeholders.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The programme is closely managed and monitored:
1. Every site reports attendance and progress via SMS by 15h00 on each day that the programme runs on weekends. There is a daily report via email on days where the programme runs during the week. Reports are consolidated and emailed to executive management by the end of the day. All problems and challenges are reacted to within hours on each programme day. Each site then provides detailed data on attendance per subject and per participating school.
2. A weekly Monday meeting of site managers is held in each district, chaired by the DIT, to debrief the previous week’s session and prepare for the following programme session
3. All 15 DITs meet every Tuesday with Sci-Bono, the managing agency, to report on district implementation and prepare for the following sessions. The detailed composite data for each site and each district is presented using a customised dashboard which indicates where management action is necessary. The data is sent to senior management in each district office and to the provincial head office. Where necessary, the head of department intervenes to facilitate action.
4. Sci-Bono reports to a provincial programme management committee every 2nd Wednesday so that issues of implementation can be managed. The committee has representatives of all directorates involved and there is a report from each directorate.
5. The provincial department’s Quality Assurance directorate monitors sites though a process of unannounced random visits to sites. The Curriculum directorate visits classrooms randomly to assure content delivery quality.
6. Sci-Bono collects anecdotal feedback from learners each week, from different sites. A monthly learner satisfaction report is compiled.
7. The CEO of Sci-Bono reports to the provincial Executive Management Team on programme progress on a monthly basis.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The main obstacles were:
• Attendance: Maintaining the target attendance rates of over 80% at all programme events. This was due to factors such as poor motivation in learners with the lowest levels of achievement, poor weather conditions in winter that demotivated learners from attending on weekends and long distances that rural learners had to travel to central sites. A strong advocacy campaign was run which targeted learners, parents and community structures. This helped improve attendance each year.
• Tutor quality: The programme identified the best teachers in the province to serve as tutors in the programme. In many cases, these teachers were employed in more affluent schools and were unwilling to be involved in a programme that was run in disadvantaged communities. Where competent teachers could not be found, the programme facilitated the movement of teachers between sites so that good teachers taught at adjoining sites each day. In some cases, the best teachers were also asked to work as trainers in teacher training activities that took place at the same time. Intervention by executive management to give priority to the SSIP intervention helped to redirect these teachers.
• Staff Burn-out: Many of the district officials spent many hours of uncompensated time helping to manage the programme. This was a great strain on them during weekends and led to them being less than rested for the following week’s work. The accumulated impact of the additional workload became very evident towards the end of the year and many were dubious about being involved in the following year. It was agreed to that their supervisors would try to give additional time off where they could. A series of non-cash incentives and rewards was implemented, supported by private sector donors.