Research Events

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has committed to hosting a series of research roundtables, seminars, and workshops informed by consultations with stakeholders, emerging issues and education findings as well research reports developed by the department and partners. Several events have been hosted between 2012 and 2018. The research event documents including programmes, presentations and reports are provided below.

On Tuesday, October 8, 2019, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) launched its Research Repository and Agenda at the Manhattan Hotel. The launch was hosted by the Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation directorate. The day offered a platform for different stakeholders in the education sector to explore the available research work undertaken by the DBE while providing them the opportunity to contribute to future research. The repository contains sector-specific research that has been commissioned and conducted within the DBE. There are 120 reports that have been categorised into 12 themes, dating from 1996 to 2019.

In order to guide and coordinate research undertaken in the basic education sector, the DBE has drafted a research agenda for the medium-term period 2019 – 2023. The agenda sets out the main research questions which are priorities for the Department, and the sector as a whole for the next five years. Following a similar consultative process, the research agenda will be updated on a bi-annual basis. The agenda provides thematic areas, the main and sub-research questions as well as examples of DBE studies on the same. The agenda will be updated annually. The presentations and an internal DBE article can be seen in the links below.

Materials from the event

Over the last five years, the Department of Basic Education along with other stakeholders such as South African academics and reading practitioners, funders, and international benchmarking specialists have been engaged in the process of developing early-grade reading benchmarks for all the Languages of Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LoLTAs). These benchmarks will serve the sector in creating greater awareness of the early milestones learners have to reach in each grade of the Foundation Phase in their reading development to become proficient readers who read with meaning.

The first of these benchmarks developed were the Nguni Language benchmarks encompassing IsiNdebele, IsiXhosa, IsiZulu and Siswati. These benchmarks were launched in a virtual event in October 2020. The second launch of benchmarks were for Afrikaans, English First Additional Language and the Sesotho-Setswana language group. This was a hybrid event in November 2023. This November saw the public release of the benchmarks for Xitsonga and Tshivenḓa.

Materials from the event

On Friday October 12, 2018, a research indaba on teacher professionalization was jointly hosted by the Initial Teacher Education and Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation directorates. The research indaba offered a platform for different stakeholders in the education sector to disseminate available research work and open a conversation on teacher professionalisation as a whole. The main objective of was to share current and future work done in the sector on teacher professionalisation, focusing on what we know about teacher professional development, teaching standards and as well as the quality of professional development and other opportunities for teachers. A report on the Indaba as well an agenda, presentations and an internal DBE article can be seen in the links below.

The research and knowledge shared at this Research Indaba will contribute towards putting in place a research and evaluation agenda for future evaluation work and provide evidence of the ongoing process of the professionalisation of teaching.

Materials from the event

The Department of Basic Education hosted a Year of Evaluations Indaba in line with the affirmation of 2015 as the International Year of Evaluations. The purpose of assigning 2015 as the International Year of Evaluations is to advocate and promote evaluation and evidence-based policy making at international, regional, national and local levels as stated in the 2015 International Year of Evaluation document.

The Indaba – held at 222 Struben Street, Pretoria, on 30 September 2015 - aimed to advocate and promote evaluation within the DBE and the broader education sector. It was also an opportunity to engage with stakeholders to develop a research and evaluation agenda for future partnerships in the sector.

Materials from the event

The DBE, through its Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation (RCME) unit, hosted the fifth symposium in its Early Grade Mathematics Research Programme (EGMRP) series on 8 August 2023. With symposiums on Mathematics learning outcomes, curriculum policy, interventions that work and the state of early grade Mathematics research in South Africa having already been hosted, this time around the focus was on the findings and recommendations of the recently completed review of Mathematics Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) and assessments in public primary schools.

Initiated in 2017, the EGMRP seeks to build evidence of effective interventions to improve the teaching and learning of Mathematics in the Foundation Phase and to facilitate better evidence use in government policy and programme development.

Materials from the event


  • EGMRP Documents
  • Presentations from the workshop

On the 17th of July 2014, the Department of Basic Education, through the Research Coordination Monitoring and Evaluation unit, hosted a research workshop on “Differences in Learning for Boys and Girls”.

The intention of the workshop was to examine those factors that lie behind the findings of recent diagnostic assessments of learner performance. The presentations were intended to focus on the weaknesses in conceptual development which manifest in low literacy and numeracy performance. Other presentations focused on possibilities, options and tools for identifying where conceptual weaknesses manifest and developing classroom-based responses to these which are scalable.

Materials from the event


2014 marked 20 years since the end of apartheid in South Africa, in acknowledgement of this the Department of Basic Education held a consultative meeting to reflect on the progress of the sector during this period. The consultative meeting was held on 17 October 2013 with presentations from university academics, DBE branch managers, senior managers, research organisations, provincial officials, other department officials, and partners.

Materials from the event

The Strategic Planning, Research and Coordination Chief Directorate hosted an Education Research Indaba (ERI) with two phases between 2012 and 2013. The purpose of the ERI was to deepen the conversation between National and Provincial Departments of Education and the research community in order to promote research utilisation and advance evidence based planning and practice.

ERI Phase One

The first phase of the ERI was held on 23 to 24 October 2012 (Article link here). The workshop on 23 October 2012 was titled Evidence Based Education Policy Reform Workshop, with a focus on using quantitative methods in education research. A session on Randomised Control Trials was presented by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). The workshop on 24 October 2012 was titled Emerging Research Findings on Quality Basic Education. The purpose of the workshop was to create an environment within which emerging research finding on the quality of education could be presented and discussed in anticipation of the upcoming review of policy in education over the first 20 years of democracy; as well as to facilitate the consideration of the inclusion of well researched quality- orientated aspects into education programmes and interventions.

Materials from the event


ERI Phase Two

The theme of ERI Phase 2, which was held on 16 to 17 April 2013, was National Education Assessments in South Africa: Supporting Literacy and Numeracy Improvements. These areas are a strategic priority of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and the Provincial Education Departments (PEDs). Research findings have contributed to the DBE’s Literacy and Numeracy strategy but it is important to understand the quality, nature and extent of research on national assessments on literacy and numeracy and the research production/research utilisation interface in this field.

Material from the event

The early grade reading initiative is partnership between the Department of Basic Education, various academic institutions, and donor partnerships. Over the past ten years, the Early Grade Reading Research series have been advancing knowledge on the system-wide improvement of early grade reading in both African languages and English as a second language in South Africa. The event presented the evaluation findings from the Early Grade Reading Programme (EGRP) which was implemented from 2021 to 2023 in the Dr RSM District of the North West Province.

The launch was based around the African Union theme of the year 2024: “Educate an Africa fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive, lifelong, quality, and relevant learning in Africa.” The results from the EGRP the event showcased the importance of investing in proven and cost-effective solutions to improve literacy in the early years.

Materials from the event


  • Article & Programme
  • Presentations
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