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Programme overview

The NECT was formed in July 2013 as a response to the call by the National Development Plan (NDP) for increased collaboration among stakeholders to improve educational outcomes. The work of the NECT is informed by the six themes presented in the Education Collaboration Framework (ECF) which guide its programme design and interventions.

The six themes are:

  • Professionalising of the teaching service;
  • Supporting courageous leadership;
  • Improving government capacity to deliver;
  • Improving the resourcing of education;
  • Involving parents and communities in education; and
  • Enhancing support for learners and promoting their wellbeing.

The six themes are organised into five programmatic areas; the District Intervention Programme (DIP), Systematic Interventions, Innovation, Local Projects and Education DialogueSA. All the themes of the NECT find expression in each of the five programmes.

Click here to download the full ECF document.

Programme 1: District Improvement Programme

The DIP aims to improve the quality of teaching, learning and management of schools as well as the effectiveness of the support and monitoring services provided to schools by the districts, with a view to replicating the programme and lessons learned during implementation in other districts and provinces. The DIP is currently being implemented in eight out of the initial 21 target districts identified for intervention and support.

The eight districts are:

  • Libode (Eastern Cape)
  • Mount Frere (Eastern Cape)
  • Pinetown (KwaZulu-Natal)
  • uThungulu (KwaZulu-Natal)
  • Waterberg (Limpopo)
  • Vhembe (Limpopo)
  • Bojanala (North West)
  • Bohlabela (Mpumalanga)

The target districts comprise a total of 4362 schools, 66 000 teachers and nearly 2 million learners, and make up 10% of all districts, 18% of schools and 18% of teachers. Since January 2014, the innovations and approaches of the NECT have been tested in 415 Fresh Start Schools (FSS), where high dosage intervention and support is provided. The FSS serve as sites for testing the innovative approaches and intervention models before system-wide replication and institutionalisation. The DIP accounted for over 90% of the NECT’s expenditure in 2014 and 2015.

The DIP has five focus areas:

Teacher Professionalisation

This component of Programme 1 is aimed at building curriculum management and delivery capacity in mathematics, science and languages, and at preparing teachers to assist in the management of learners’ welfare needs. The NECTs teacher development strategy, Learning Programmes, focuses on supporting teachers to effectively deliver the CAPS curriculum. This is done through a standardised, routinised year-long programme which entails quarterly training, resource inputs such as teacher support toolkits and in-school support.

School Management and Leadership

The school management and leadership component of Programme 1 aims to build the capacity of school principals towards courageous leadership, effective management and the proper monitoring of curriculum delivery. Members of School Management Teams (SMTs) receive quarterly training and support on the Learning Programmes and on courageous leadership, and are provided with tools to develop self-assessment systems in schools.

District Development

District development is aimed at building the capacity of subject advisors and circuit managers in the eight district offices, with a view to supporting schools so that principals, heads of departments (HODs) and teachers perform effectively and their performance results in the improved achievement and success of learners at all levels. Mathematics, science and languages subject advisors receive quarterly training and support on the Learning Programmes and work together with NECT curriculum coaches to provide effective support to schools.

Parent and Community Involvement

The parental and community involvement component aims to: empower parents to support their children’s learning; promote volunteerism among parents and community members in supporting the activities of the school; and increase the use of community resources for the welfare and development of learners. The Parent involvement component produced a Parent-Community Engagement Framework with a number of easy to access, replicable guides and mini-modules.

Learner Welfare and Support

The purpose of NECT interventions in learner welfare and development is to ensure that schools serve as nurturing environments for all learners to grow, develop and achieve, empowering learners to take responsibility for their learning and their lives. The learner welfare component has produced six learner development modules aimed at raising learners’ awareness of the importance of education and how they can play a greater role in education improvement.

Programme 2: Systematic Intervention

The systemic intervention programme aims to address key systemic challenges that are holding back the improvement of the education system or that risk reversing the gains already made. Such interventions will in all likelihood be at a national level. The programme seeks to further the NDP intent of strengthening the capacity of the state to deliver public services.

Programme 2 currently focuses on Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in education and is categorised into three initiatives:

Initiative 1: Ministerial Advisory Committee on ICTs

The NECT has facilitated the formation of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on ICTs which is made up of made up of private and public senior officials. The purpose of the committee is to support the development of an ICT strategy at the Department of Basic Education (DBE), provide technical oversight support to the DBE and to other education initiatives such as Operation Phakisa Education Lab, which is located in the Presidency.

Initiative 2: User Requirements for the SA-School Administration and Management System (SA-SAMS)

Initiative 2 is aimed at providing technical support to e-administration at the DBE with focus on SA-SAMS and the examinations system. The support is primarily in the area of planning the modernisation and revamp of the school administration system: defining the SA-SAMS User Requirement Specification (URS) and upgrading the SA-SAMS technical architecture. This will help improve the efficiency of the DBE’s core management information system and consequently the resource allocation to schools and districts.

Initiative 3: Connectivity Assessment

The aim of the connectivity assessment is to identify which schools have acceptable connectivity for potential e-learning pilot initiates. Evaluation work has been undertaken to determine the minimum quantum and speed of connectivity required in order for a school to be defined as functionally “connected”. Assessments are currently being conducted in five districts: Bohlabela (Mpumalanga), Bojanala (North West), Mount Frere (Eastern Cape), uThungulu (KwaZulu-Natal) and Waterberg (Limpopo).

Programme 3: Innovation Programme

The programme is intended to initiate projects and set up channels that will promote new thinking, approaches and programmes aimed at improving the quality of learning and teaching and the efficiency and effectiveness of the education system. The NECT’s key focus is on identifying, testing, replicating and institutionalising innovations that have been proven to be effective and have the potential to enhance the overall performance of the system.

A number of initiatives have been introduced to contribute to testing and mainstreaming new ideas in the education sector, with a view to catalysing long-term improvements.

Initiative 1: Promoting learning initiatives in the system

As part of developing and promoting a knowledge management agenda in the system, the NECT has initiated 3 learning cases. The first case study, produced in 2015, focuses on the national examination system and how it has showed improvements over the last 20 years. Whilst it highlights replicable lessons for public service improvement, the research identifies ways in which the examinations system itself can be further improved or preserved. The second case study focuses on learning and demonstrating the successes, innovations and challenges of the District Steering Committees (DSC) structure with a view to determining whether it can serve as a replicable model for other districts nationally. The third seeks to publicly share the lessons from the school referral system which was piloted in Bela-Bela, Waterberg with 3 government departments as well as universities and NGOs. The case seeks to demonstrate the pilot as an innovation that can be replicated nationally and to strengthen the implementation of the Policy on Screening, Identification, Assessment and Support (SIAS).

Initiative 2: Innovation promotion unit

Following extensive national and international research as well an initial discussion with key funders and innovators, the NECT was mandated to take the lead in promoting and facilitating innovation in the education sector to achieve educational excellence, which is at the centre of South Africa’s National Development Plan (NDP). The focus of the innovation unit is to support the development and testing of innovative solutions for large-scale projects with the aim of accelerating delivery of catalytic education methodologies that can be expanded and sustained.

Thus, the innovation unit will aim to:

  • Promote high-value innovations;
  • Create an environment in which innovations can thrive;
  • Create platforms for experts in innovation to collaborate on projects with the express aim of diffusion and replication; and
  • Explore financial models that match innovations to like-minded funders for shared value partnerships.

Innovation clinics aimed at providing a platform to generate new ideas are currently being run across the country, through a cluster/region approach. Clinics have been held in 2016 focusing on generating new ideas around teacher professionalisation, youth development and literacy promotion. A stage gate model outlining the key steps that each idea should go through before a pilot and replication process is rolled out is being developed with lessons from similar initiatives.

Programme 4: Local Projects

In striving to improve the coordination and effectiveness of social investments in education, the NECT aims to provide guidelines on how to increase the return on investment from social investment in education. Increased return on investments will require a change of approaches, methodologies and attitudes from both social investors and intended beneficiaries.

A handbook for maximising the impact of corporate social investment (CSI) in mathematics and science interventions was developed with the intention of distributing the handbook nationally.

Programme 5: Education DialogueSA

Towards the end of 2013, the NECT set up an Education Dialogue group comprising 43 members representing educationists, academics, business, unions and government. The purpose of the Dialogue is to create an avenue for open, honest engagement around key subjects which need resolution and action for educational reform to be successful in South Africa.

In 2014 the NECT  convened two national dialogues and one provincial dialogue focusing on teacher professionalisation and school ethos.

Since then at least nine dialogues have been convened focusing on various topics as shown in the diagram below:

Dialogues Outcomes
1. Partnership Schools Dialogue (March 2015) Platform created for interested stakeholders to openly discuss mechanics of the model
2. Reading/Parent involvement and       development schools model/private schools (March 2015) Consensus on the need to focus on literacy in early grades. Follow up Literacy networks.
3. Roundtable on promotion of teaching professionalisation (May 2015) Follow up from the previous dialogue
4. SACE seminar on teacher professionalisation (June 2015) SACE is improving its teacher certification policies and measures
5. Eastern Cape University Deans of Education (August 2015) Support education improvement in the Eastern Cape and sharing of practical learning improvement strategies
6. Learner Safety Summit (December 2015) Students, unions, government, SGBs committed to maintaining learner safety - declaration signed by all parties in this regard
7. Education NGO Leadership Summit (March 2016 Role of NGOs in implementing the NDP refreshed. Networked funders, corporates and NGOs
8. Vuwani crisis – local stakeholder engagement (May-August 2016) Local stakeholders agreed on joint programme to help resume teaching and learning. R10 million worth of donations raised through crowd-funding programme. Distribution is above 50%
9. Four provincial roadshows 2000 Curriculum advisors, governance and management officials and parents involved to encourage all involved to increase curriculum coverage


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