The Beyers Naude School Development Programme (BNSDP)
Fighting Poverty through Education
At the heart of the BNSDP is the quest for deepening the quality and confidence of educators in rural communities, as well as encouraging communities around the school to participate in the management of their school. The BNSDP therefore focuses on establishing good governance and management principles, which will ultimately form the foundation of the long term success of the schools affiliated with the programme. We believe that Kagiso Trust’s step-by-step and reward-driven approach with the BNSDP is the best way to achieve a lasting, positive impact on South Africa’s schooling system and wider rural communities.
A key performance indicator of the programme is the successful implementation of the basic fundamentals of an education institution – where teachers are teaching, learners are learning and the school has a credible, functional and sustainable management and leadership capability. Our experience continues to reinforce that there are no ‘quick fix’ or ‘one size fits all’ solutions when turning underperforming schools around. The key here is to identify and support committed stakeholders to drive change from within the school.
Notwithstanding the transformation agenda and new policies introduced by the Department of Education, the major structural and systemic challenges faced by many public schools in South Africa remain – with poor Grade 12 results a persistent symptom of the overall state of education delivery. Kagiso Trust established the Beyers Naude Schools Development Programme (BNSDP), in response to the long standing and deeply-rooted challenges that face our national education system. The aim is to restore the culture of learning and teaching in schools, while at the same time develop functional and sustainable relationships between key stakeholders within the school community. Without basic literacy skills, the opportunity to break free from the poverty cycle is limited. Education empowers and enlightens; it opens up opportunities and gives one a voice to express opinions and participate in a larger social context. The programme has worked with rural high schools since 2005, accumulating a wealth of knowledge and understanding on some of the issues that affect a school’s performance negatively. The programme has also served as a unique incubator for ideas, continually testing their rigor and application before broadening their implementation.
The Strategic Objectives of the BNSDP
- To create functional schools through the implementation of targeted leadership capacity and relationship building training interventions targeted at educators, parents, learners and the schools’ surrounding communities.
- To foster and create functional, vibrant, healthy, accountable school communities that impact positively on the schooling and after school life of learners in rural areas.
- To promote the concept of making rural schools centres of learning and excellence by creating conducive learning and teaching environments in schools.
Programme Development Phases
This process involves:
- Signing a Memorandum of Agreement with the provincial Department of Education (DoE).
- Agreement between Kagiso Trust and the provincial DoE on match funding for the programme.
- Provincial DoE designates management capacity at provincial and district level.
- Provincial DoE identifies the poorest district in the province for the BNSDP to be implemented in.
- Kagiso Trust appoints a local coordinator, preferably a retired individual who has worked in the DoE.
This process involves:
- The provincial DoE identifying schools earmarked for the BNSDP.
- Kagiso Trust, Absa foundation and DoE district officials visit the earmarked schools.
- Schools are invited to attend a panel interview to justify why they should be included into the BNSDP.
- The panel agrees on the 10 schools to be included into the BNSDP.
- An official launch of the BNSDP in the province takes place; the provincial MEC of the DoE gives a keynote address.
Each school is invited to attend a retreat (workshop), held from Friday afternoon to Sunday. All educators, representatives of the School Governing Body (SGB) and LRC participate in the retreat. The retreat is a team building exercise. The school identifies projects linked to team building that they will implement. All school stakeholders thereafter sign commitment statements.
Curriculum Implementation and Management
Kagiso Trust conducts a baseline study, with the aim of assessing competence levels in Maths, Physical Science and English with Educators and a sample of grade 12 learners. Kagiso Trust deploys a professional team to work with educators on the new curriculum. The team assess the competences of the School Management Team (SMT), including the school principal in terms of curriculum management. That is:
- Assess curriculum delivery and management systems and processes.
- Agree on a 70% minimum pass rate at Grade 12 level.
- Learner support (Kagiso Trust usually invites the local university to provide support or driven by the school itself).
School Management and Governance
During this phase:
- Training is facilitated for SGB members.
- Discussion seminars are convened for principals.
- Learners are organized to attend leadership retreats.
This process involves:
- The school has to obtain a minimum of a 70% pass rate at Grade 12 before they are considered for infrastructure development.
- A local contractor is appointed.
- The community is mobilized, so as for the community to feel a sense of ownership with regard to the infrastructure built in the school.
- The infrastructure is launched.
- A sport and culture tournament takes place, which includes soccer, netball and debate competition.
- Schools compete in school beautification competition.
- Kagiso Trust invites the local university to train educators on setting up and utilizing their newly built science laboratory.
- The newly built computer centre is open to community members.
Consolidation and Exit
It is important to note that the BNSDP runs for 4 years in each district. During the fourth year Kagiso Trust engages with schools on a process of consolidation and exit. The district through association with the process of implementation is geared to take over the programme beyond Kagiso Trust. The consolidation and exit process also entails the institutionalization of good practice in terms of curriculum implementation as well as school management and governance.
Progress with Government Funding Partnerships
The BNSDP has developed a funding model based on the principle of co-funding with the Department of Education and other private sector partners. The BNSDP has provided a platform to the private sector to invest in an initiative that has proven sustainability and that can be held accountable, both financially and operationally. Strategic private sector partners have played their part during the period to develop a holistic progression model in the 59 schools that not only addresses a school’s physical infrastructure, but one that also focuses on management, accountability and community mobilisation. The programme has also played its role in educating the private sector on the challenges facing South African schools today.
Local coordinators – individuals who have previously worked in the department at senior management position – work with the schools on a regular basis to provide management support. The Kagiso Trust also identifies and engages with individuals working with the Department of Education district management support system who are passionate about education. In all the six clusters there is a local coordinator employed by the Kagiso Trust. We have worked with service providers, including the Joint Education Trust in the Free State, Centre for Applied Science and Maths Education in KwaZulu-Natal and MPower in Mpumalanga in 2008/2009, to provide specific expertise to the programme, particularly in curriculum implementation and management within the schools. The programme also employs programme managers, who are themselves former teachers that are responsible for the management of the programme. In addition, the programme has a team of externally sourced facilitators within the Kagiso Trust, who are responsible for team building retreats. The whole structure is supported by an administrative and management capability based within the Kagiso Trust.
The BNSDP has awarded well performing schools in the five provinces with infrastructure that includes: media centres, science laboratories, computer centres and libraries.