Globally, South Africa spends one of the highest percentages of Gross Domestic Product (6 percent) on education. Despite significant government spending and charitable investments to reform South Africa’s public school system since the end of apartheid, overall student performance has declined. The traditional South African education system offers limited quality options for learners from poor communities and unequal access to quality instruction, which is reflected in learner results: only one of 18 learners ends up with a post-high school qualification and only a third of financial-aid students that gain access to university will graduate. Compounding this, there remains a large gap between employer expectations and education outcomes. This stems principally from the approach to education in schools and universities which largely overlooks the soft and hard skills required to do work in today’s professional world.
Despite these challenges, South Africa is an exciting and forward-looking country. A mix of factors create an environment ripe for scalable, sustainable solutions. A well-developed infrastructure and political system. Universal acceptance of the urgent need to improve education and employment outcomes from across all spheres of society. An openness to cross-sector collaboration. These factors combine together to create a unique opportunity to positively and sustainably influence the lives of children and youth living in poverty.
Our primary objective is to increase access to quality education, and improve educational outcomes for children from South Africa’s poorer communities. We’ve learned that educational data-when put to use correctly-can dramatically improve learner outcomes. That’s why we’ve partnered with the Department of Basic Education (DBE) to launch the Data Driven Districts (DDD) initiative and enable data for 80% of South Africa’s 12 million learners to be accessible and actionable by 2020. The project provides schools and district officials the ability to see relevant education data immediately and graphically via a dashboard. The team also coaches officials on how to draw meaningful insights from the data so as to trigger actions that will improve learner outcomes.
We’ll continue to partner with and support organizations that use information and proven methodologies to identify school and classroom interventions that will improve learner outcomes. We’ll also continue to fund high quality and innovative school operating partners that can substantially increase access to quality education and improve outcomes for children from poorer communities.
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