Programme 3: Innovation Programme

The programme is intended to initiate programmes 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 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.

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 case studies. The first case study, produced in 2013, focuses on the national examination system and how it has showed improvement over the last 20 years. Whilst it highlights replication learning for public school improvement, the research identified ways in which the examination 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 (DSCs) structure with a view of 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: EdHub Innovation

About the EdHub

The EdHub is a dedicated innovation unit within the NECT with an explicit mandate for promoting innovation in education. It is called to design and drive innovation for 21st century education, so that it can impact, at scale, the basic education system in South Africa and ultimately improve education outcomes and quality of life for all.

About the Sandbox Project

The EdHub’s flagship project is the Sandbox Schools Project. The Sandbox Project is an ambitious multi-year initiative that involves setting up a ‘laboratory’ for trialling approaches to 21st century education in South African public schools. The vision of the Sandbox is to test teaching and learning practices aimed at developing competencies for a changing world, within the context of a ‘typical’ public school, in order to gather substantial evidence on which practices and models are best suited to the South African schooling system. The intention of Sandbox Project is to boldly explore and drive the transformation agenda in education, and it is specifically designed to assist the sector to respond to the demands of this changing world. As the pilot progresses, the evidence collected will be made available to the Department of Basic Education and sector stakeholders.

The following objectives guide the work of the project and contribute towards achieving this vision:

  • Test models for competency-based teaching and learning in South African public schools
  • Provide evidence of what works and what does not for the Department of Basic Education and other stakeholders
  • Document processes and develop models for the scale-up and rollout of similar interventions
  • Contribute towards stimulating innovative thinking and developing a growth mindset among stakeholders in the public school ecosystem

Guiding Principles of the Sandbox

What it IS about… 

What it’s NOT about… 

Experimenting with well-researched competency-based teaching & learning practices

Introducing technology and hoping for the best

Working with the current curriculum 

Overhauling the current curriculum 

Building on foundational skills, while emphasising competencies for a changing world

Solely focused on ‘21st Century skills’

Teachers playing a new role, with confidence and enthusiasm 

Teachers no longer necessary 

A way of thinking, across subjects and learning areas 

Located within a specific subject 

Simple, actionable implementation 

Burdensome, complicated implementation 

Collaboration, co-creation and dialogue 

Isolated design and implementation 

Interventions spanning the entire school ecosystem

Interventions limited to curriculum

To date, eleven schools have been selected to serve as initial pilot sites for the Sandbox. With support from the district, circuits, school leaders and educators, we will collaboratively transform these schools into ecosystems of 21st century learning over time. 

© 2019 National Education Collaboration Trust