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Increased proficiency with improved teaching practices

The partnership aims to develop and pilot innovative and scalable interventions to strengthen quality of reading and numeracy in early years of primary school in the poorest, most rural and remote areas of South Africa

  • Where
    Pretoria, Sydafrika
  • Focus area
  • Duration
    2019-2021 (3 years)
  • Economy
    The Hempel Foundation: DKK 15 m
    UNICEF Denmark: DKK 7.5 m
Prime partner: UNICEF Denmark

The problem we aim to address

South Africa faces a severe reading crisis with up to 78% of Grade 4 learners in primary school not able to read with meaning, and 29% not able to read at all. Poor performance in primary school is reflected in secondary school where only 40% of children complete their final year of schooling.

Low education outcomes take on a geographic location and racial dimensions, with rural, township and farm schools doing worse than the urban schools, and schools in black and coloured communities performing significantly worse than schools in white areas. This is one of the reasons that today South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world and inequality has actually increased since the end of apartheid in 1994. Today, almost half of the population is considered chronically poor and high unemployment remains a key challenge, standing at 26.7% in the last quarter of 2017.

Our approach

The partnership will improve teaching practices through

  • the provision of a structured lesson plan (hard copy or tablet-based)
  • the provision of Learning and Teaching Support Material,
  • providing upfront centralised training to teachers
  • providing on-going support, which will be varied in the interventions i.e. providing a higher dosage of on-site coaching to teachers and using an on-site coach to initiate a Community of Practice, in which the coach eventually takes on the role of a virtual coach to support the Community Of Practice

Previous interventions have shown that the largest impact for children was observed when the form of professional support to teachers included on-site coaching.

Coaching is not intended to be universal in its application; rather it is intended to be provided to a cohort of the most disadvantaged schools, where performance is lowest. Nevertheless, as part of a sustainability plan and with the intent of scaling the overall approach nationally, it is necessary to identify the most cost-effective solution to on-site coaching (which is currently not accounted for in provincial budgets).

That is why the approach will include documenting and comparing the effect of different dosage of on-site coaching.