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Partnerships and collaboration that enhance the quality of education in rural schools

Interview with Sizakele Mphatsoe, Education Development Programme Manager, Kagiso Trust

[bctt tweet=”Partnerships are important if we are to heed greater impact” username=”Kagiso_Trust”]

  1. Why did Kagiso Trust (KT) decide to focus on the full education pipeline (from ECD to Higher Education) within the Education Development pillar?

After reviewing our Beyers Naudé Schools Development Programme (BNSDP) model, established in 2004, one of the observations was that some learners have cumulative gaps. They progress from one grade to the next, with some areas of learning being under-achieved. It is when they reach high school, that it is detected that there is a need for additional assistance needed for numeracy and literacy. This is not a challenge that is unique to our BNSDP learners but a challenge throughout South Africa.

The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) who assess reading comprehension and monitors trends in reading literacy at five-year intervals assessed fourth year reading comprehension in over 60 countries including South Africa.  In PIRLS recent 2016 findings, South Africa was the lowest performing country (mean score of 320) out of 50 countries.  This means that South Africa may be six years behind the top performing countries. Around 78{48e0b5a3b794481190ad31c3810e457fc616f4313203886b242d01fbf54279bd} of South African Grade 4 learners do not reach the international benchmarks and therefore do not have basic reading skills by the end of the Grade 4 school year, in contrast to only 4{48e0b5a3b794481190ad31c3810e457fc616f4313203886b242d01fbf54279bd} of learners internationally.

Another study done by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) showed that only one-quarter of children at public, no-fee schools (Quintile 1, 2 and 3) obtained mathematics scores above the minimum level of competency.

Therefore, we need to address these cumulative gaps, by making investments starting in Early Childhood Development (ECD), we are more likely to observe long-term benefit in terms of keeping learners in school longer, which improves learner throughput in the education system (a measure introduced to evaluate learner retention) and ensure that all the learning outcomes, class appropriate competencies and early childhood cognitive development are built early.

Our education development programme will continue with basic education interventions through the BNSDP ( which will now include  ECD as well as exit opportunity programme supporting technical high schools), and Higher Education through the Eric Molobi Scholarship Programme  and extend it to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

[bctt tweet=”Collaboration with the communities we work in should never be underestimated” username=”Kagiso_Trust”]


  1. Kagiso Trust has implemented the Beyers Naudé Schools Development in collaboration with the Free State Department of Education for the past 7 years and has recently exited the programme which has seen year-on-year academic growth of good quality results from schools in the Thabo Mofutsanyana District. What are some of the lessons learned?
  • A long-term perspective is required for sustained impact. As such, the BNSDP intervention needs at least three years of implementation in a district before yielding positive results.
  • Stakeholder engagement at all levels, including unions, is critical to the intervention’s success.
  • The visibility of leadership (political and administrative) to take ownership of the intervention and provide support is important.
  • Collaboration with the communities we work in should never be underestimated.
  • Teacher movement, i.e. redeployment, resignation and retirement, impact on programme implementation.
  • The role of school governance is key, and implementation needs to ensure that the school governing body actively participates in enhancing the schools’ functionality.

[bctt tweet=”The visibility of leadership (political and administrative) to take ownership of the intervention and provide support is important” username=”Kagiso_Trust”]


  1. How has KT scaled and replicated the education development model?

One of our key success indicators which are also aligned with our vision, is seeing an uptake from partners and collaborators in adopting this model to improve quality education.  One of the ways we have managed to scale our model is the partnership between Kagiso Trust and the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation to form the Kagiso Shanduka Trust (KST) in collaboration with the Free State Department of Education to implement the District Whole Schools Development Programme in the Fezile Dabi and Motheo districts in the Free State.  Partnerships are important if we are to heed greater impact and the FirstRand Foundation have joined the KST partnership to scale areas of our model.

Anglo American has been in discussions with the Trust and have shown interest in independently managing and implementing our model in schools in and around their mining towns in North West, Northern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.


  1. What makes the KT’s Whole Schools Development model unique and what impact has it had?

What makes the model unique is that we don’t just provide much-needed infrastructure, but we look at the entire schooling system. The core objective of the programme is to foster and create functional, vibrant, healthy, accountable and sustainable school communities that impact positively on the after-schooling life of learners in rural areas through effective partnerships at the school, district and community levels

The impact that our model has had to date:

  • 440 schools that have attended empowerment workshops
  • 31 981 number of learners’ eyesight tested
  • 795 learners received spectacles
  • Over 5 000 Educators developed
  • Over 800 000 learners benefited
  • Over 200 jobs created
  • Over 260 SMMEs that benefited


  1. Why did KT partner with Limpopo as the next province to implement BNDSP?

Kagiso Trust in the past 30 years has done a lot of development work in Limpopo and we saw it befitting to go back and look at addressing some of the challenges facing the education system in the province. The province has been one of the three least performing provinces nationally with regards to matric results. We would like to thank the Limpopo MEC for Education Maaria Ishmael Kgetjepe for partnering with us and embracing public-private partnerships to address some of the challenges in the Sekhukhune district and work towards the realisation of Vision 2030 outlined in the National Development Plan.


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