About the NECT

The National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) is an organisation dedicated to strengthening partnerships within civil society and between civil society and government in order to achieve South Africa’s national goals for basic education. It strives both to support and to influence the agenda for reform of education.

The organisation is based on the principle that collaboration and focused effort by important role players increases our power as a nation to secure the changes we urgently need to deliver good education to all our children.

The NECT’s programme is set out in the Education Collaboration Framework, a plan for education reform that was produced in early 2013 through consultation among key role players in the basic education sector.

The ECF was a response by civil society in the education field to government’s call for collaboration to accelerate the pace of national development. It aims to contribute to achieving the education targets set out in the National Development Plan. The ECF has the full support of the Department of Basic Education.

NECT’s point of departure is that government and civil society have different but complementary roles to play in relation to education. The provision of basic education for the general population is the responsibility of the government which is uniquely equipped to fulfil this overarching mandate. Civil society, with its diversity and flexibility, is able to support government by innovation and accelerated delivery. Civil society becomes more relevant and more influential when channelling its efforts in a coordinated way into the national education system.


NECT is a registered trust and is overseen by a board of trustees chaired by former FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nxasana. The trustees are drawn from business, government, education trade unions and civil society more broadly.


NECT receives financial support from a range of funding partners, including government, business and philanthropic trusts and foundations.


The NECT’s objectives are to:

  • Improve the quality of schooling and systems for monitoring and supporting schools.
  • Provide a governance platform for joint initiatives by civil society, business, trade unions and government to improve education.
  • Oversee implementation of collaborative education programmes and ensure their suitability to the situations they seek to address.
  • Strengthen coordination of private sector-funded activities to improve schooling and encourage alignment with the national agenda for education reform.
  • Undertake activities that promote good returns on investment for private and public spending on education.
  • Consolidate knowledge generated by private and public sector organisations about school improvement.
  • Set guiding principles for national education programmes and local education projects.

Themes for collaboration

NECT channels its efforts into six themes for collective action identified in the National Education Framework:

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

Types of intervention

NECT pursues these themes through different types of interventions.

District-based improvement programmes are the backbone of the NECT, which has prioritised some of the country’s poorly performing districts for concentrated attention. Districts are close enough to the grassroots to effect change in individual schools and sufficiently linked to the broader education system to contribute to systemic change.

The NECT also devotes considerable energy to interventions that are intended to have a systemic impact across the basic education sector.

It promotes and supports innovative educational interventions in the belief that change will not be achieved simply by pursuing the same combination of activities that have delivered limited results in the past.

It provides support for local interventions initiated by other organisations (for example, corporate social investment programmes) with the aim of increasing their impact and yielding better returns on investment.

The NECT coordinates Education DialogueSA, a programme which provides an opportunity for influential stakeholders to reflect critically on the key needs, approaches and issues in the provision of quality schooling to the entire population. It is intended that this dialogue be “action-oriented,” leading to wider advocacy and policy development.

© National Education Collaboration Trust