The Department produces several national monitoring and evaluation reports. The reports contained in this link span from 2011 to 2017. The reports include the following:
School Monitoring Survey 2011/12 and 2017/18
In 2017, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) commissioned a national survey to measure public ordinary schools’ progress towards achieving the key goals and indicators set out in Action Plan 2019 and in the Medium Term Strategic Framework 2014-2019. In assessing how far these goals and indicators are being met, the School Monitoring Survey (SMS) 2017 builds on the SMS 2011, allowing us to track our delivery progress over this period.
The SMS focused on gathering information which is not available in other data systems or is collected in a different way and requires validation. In 2017, the SMS focused on 13 of the 15 Action Plan indicators which were measured in 2011. In addition, the SMS collected information about teacher and principal views on provincial, national and international assessments, provisioning for Grade R learners in schools, the value and use of the South African School Administration and Management System (SA-SAMS), and the feasibility of implementing the policy on Incremental Introduction of African Languages (IIALS).
The current South African curriculum, which is encapsulated in the National Curriculum Statement and the Curriculum and Policy Statement (CAPS), has been rolled out since 2011. Subsequently, the DBE in collaboration with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), commissioned an implementation evaluation of the curriculum. This evaluation was completed by an independent service provider and has recently been made publicly available on both DBE and DPME websites.
The purpose of the evaluation was to determine how well the new curriculum has been implemented and how to strengthen its implementation.
The Department therefore requested the evaluators to consider whether teachers are properly equipped to implement CAPS, whether the systems supporting the implementation of CAPS are working and to identify other areas of implementation that the department will need to strengthen.
The evaluation used various research methods, including a review of policy documents and research literature, interviews with teachers, principals and government officials as well as a set of case studies in 24 schools. These research methods were selected to provide detailed qualitative information on the perceptions of CAPS and the dynamics affecting the implementation of the curriculum.
NSNP Implementation Evaluation
The National School Nutrition Programme (NSNP) aims to improve the health and nutritional status of the poorest learners in South Africa. Its main objective is to enhance learning by providing a nutritious meal on time daily. The programme is of great strategic importance: it involves a large financial commitment from government (R5.3 billion according to the NSNP 2013/14 annual report.) , and reaches over 9 million learners. Given this, an implementation evaluation was commissioned by the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, in collaboration with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and was conducted by JET Education Services. The evaluation was concluded in October 2016. The evaluation assessed whether the NSNP is being implemented in a way that is likely to result in significant health and educational benefits.
The implementation evaluation employed a mixed methods design. The following data collection methods were used: a document and literature review; refinement of the NSNP’s theory of change (ToC) and development of a logframe; interviews with 44 key stakeholders at national, provincial and district level; surveys with principals, NSNP Co-ordinators, Volunteer Food Handlers (VFHs), school governing body (SGB) members and learners and observations in a representative sample of 267 primary and special schools; survey interviews with a sample of 26 NSNP service providers from across all provinces; analysis of cost and output data.
The recommendations for policy, management, implementation as well as further research were: Improving relevance and appropriateness by integrating the NSNP more closely with other health, feeding and nutrition programmes; Improving programme effectiveness by ensuring that food is served by 10:00 am and preferably at the start of the school day; Improving fidelity and efficiency by developing norms and standards for staffing and resources required for the implementation of the NSNP; Additional benefits such as the Volunteer Food Handlers (VFHs) stipend could be increased in line with the minimum stipend for Social Sector EPWP workers; and Improve sustainability and upscaling by ensuring continued commitment from government of core funding for the NSNP. Several stakeholder workshops have been held. Management response and an Improvement Plan were developed and presented to Cabinet. The programme managers have continued to implement the improvement plan and report to Cabinet on the progress.
Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme Implementation Evaluation
In October 2013 the DBE in partnership with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) commissioned an evaluation of the Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme (FLBP). The Funza Lushaka Bursary Programme (FLBP), was established in 2007 as a merit-bursary with the goal of attracting greater numbers of students into initial teacher education (ITE) programmes in South African universities.
The FLBP implementation evaluation was designed to obtain information about whether the programme is operating as intended, evaluating the appropriateness of programme design for the policy context, and determining the effectiveness of the programme in relation to its key deliverables, and its overall operational efficiency. The evaluation makes an assessment about programme sustainability, and points to future considerations for future evaluation of the programme impact. The evaluation focuses on the programme from 2007-2012 during which 23,392 students were funded under the Programme, representing on average 15% of the total ITE enrolment over the period.
The findings of the evaluation indicated that the Programme, which is considered a Government success story, is performing well. The overall recommendation was that the DBE should retain the Programme as it is an effective policy instrument to address supply requirements of qualified teachers in areas of scarce skills and should be sustained by Government, along with the improvements recommended in the report.
Reports on progess in the sector
The Department has produced reports since 2011 on progress made in the sector towards the realisation of the sector’s goals. The Delivery Agreement for Outcome 1 which was signed in 2010 as well as the sector plan, Action Plan to 2014: Towards the realisation of Schooling 2025 (the ‘Action Plan’) being championed by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) are the basis for this report. Reporting sources for these reports has included the School Monitoring Survey of 2011.
Independent formative workbook and textbook evaluation(2013)
In 2011/2012 the Department of Basic Education (DBE) in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), commissioned an independent formative evaluation of approved DBE workbooks and textbooks. Selected language and mathematics workbooks for Grade 3, 6 and 9 as well as selected Siyavula textbooks for Grade 10 were evaluated. The focus of the evaluation was on the quality and utilisation of DBE approved workbooks and textbooks in South African public schools.
The impact of the introduction of Grade R on learning outcomes
In 2012/2013, the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in the Presidency, in partnership with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) commissioned an Impact Evaluation of the Grade R programme. The evaluation was based on a complex statistical method used to estimate the effect of having attended Grade R on learning outcomes later in primary school. The study found an overall positive impact of Grade R on later learning outcomes in both language and mathematics. The estimated benefits were somewhat larger for language than for mathematics, though in both cases the size of the effects were fairly small relative to what one might have hoped to see. In some schools Grade R has contributed towards better learning, but in other schools it has not. Clearly one cannot take it for granted that Grade R is always quality Grade R. An improvement plan based on recommendations from the report has already been approved by the Department of Basic Education.
Evaluating the first phase of Grade 12 Mind the Gap study guides
The Mind the Gap study guides for Grade 12 learners were developed and distributed in 2012 in an effort to assist Grade 12 learners to mind-the-gap between failing and passing, by bridging-the-gap in learners’ understanding of commonly tested concepts so candidates can pass the National Senior Certificate (NSC). A Randomised Control Trial (RCT) was conducted in 2012 in an effort to measure the impact of the study guides on performance in the NSC. The report on the evaluation is provided below.
Establishment of Early Grade Reading Benchmarks for the South African context
Reading Crisis in South Africa
Despite the significant improvements made in the last three cycles of the Progress in International Reading and Literacy Study (PIRLS) where learners’ reading comprehension is assessed, a large majority (78%) of South African learners still cannot read for meaning in the language they are being taught to read in by the time they are in Grade 4. This suggest that there are literacy development gaps in the Foundation Phase (Grades R-3). Failing to learn to read in the first three grades has dire consequences for the rest of a learner’s schooling career as in Grade 4 learners transition from learning how to read to reading in order to learn other subjects including mathematics. Learners who do not make this transition swiftly are at risk of performing poorly in later grades and even dropping out of school altogether.
Why Reading Benchmarks are essential
Studies like PIRLS and the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) that South Africa participates in give invaluable information on the country’s learner reading comprehension levels in grades earlier than matric, however, since they do not give a sense of which foundational reading skills learners are stumbling on, impeding their success on the ultimate skill of comprehension. To remedy this, in 2019, the Department of Basic Education; South African academics; reading practitioners; funders; and international benchmarking experts began exploring early grade reading benchmarking for the South African context. Benchmarks create clearer expectations on milestones learners need to reach in their reading development journey to be on track to reading for meaning by age 10 as set out as a goal by President Ramaphosa to be achieved by 2030.
Setting Reading Benchmarks in South Africa
The long-term goal is to have foundational reading benchmarks established for all the South African Languages of Learning at Teaching (LoLTs) by 2024. This work will be done in phases, with some languages being worked on concurrently as funding and capacity becomes available.