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Education Innovator’s Review uncovers ground-breaking ideas

Thursday, 31 March 2016   (0 Comments)
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The UCT Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a specialised unit at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business, has published the Education Innovator’s Review, a special publication which showcases the outstanding projects taking place in the South African education space.

The Bertha Centre is dedicated to advancing social innovation and entrepreneurship, and works to uncover successful ideas that have shown to have significant social impact as well as pioneering new ideas.

Project manager, Louise Albertyn explained that the Education Initiative – which produced the Review - works to improve education outcomes in low-income communities along the entire education journey from ‘cradle to career’.

“We have identified and come to understand which programmes work by compiling over 125 case studies of those innovations demonstrating innovative programme design, successful scaling, robust monitoring and evaluation, cost efficiency and systemic collaboration. The database has been put together to enable people to learn from each other and also see what is already being done to avoid unnecessary duplication. From this database we highlighted 14 programmes and created the Education Innovator’s Review.”

Examples of focus areas include: Early Childhood Development, Literacy & Numeracy, Teacher Development, Inclusive and Thriving School Communities, Curriculum Development, Productive Partnerships with Government, Investigating Market-based Solutions and Narrowing the Gap between Education and Employment

“The journey that we’ve been on in compiling the Review was to find out how each person and project fits into the education ecosystem, what they can bring, how they have scaled their offering for greater impact and what other people can learn from them,” says Louise.

“We took the holistic approach that everything in education needs to form part of the pipeline. The way the Review is framed is that each of the projects plays a role in the ecosystem which includes a broader community involving funders, government, community – all of whom play a vital part of the education journey. And the importance of developing relationships is a very strong thread throughout in the publication.”

Some examples of these types of relationships include:

The relationship between the teacher, the learner and the subject -The Maths Centre Incorporating Sciences (MCIS), which is involved in teacher and student development in 500 schools across the country, believes that the relationship between the learner and the subject is important, and that Mathematics and Science have their own unique language and meaning which teachers and learners must understand and grow to love.

The relationship between the teachers and the community: Project Build, a community development non-profit that builds schools, clinics and ECD centres mainly in KZN, puts an emphasis on respect in all its interactions – respect for the school teachers and learners, the school leadership, and above all the community in which the project is located.

The relationship between the schools and the community - Redcap Schools Project works to bring together schools, parents, communities and local businesses and to empower them to improve the performance of school learners. This includes professional development of teachers as well as working with school governing bodies to help individuals appreciate the difference they can make and improve efficiency in these roles

The relationship between the schools, implementers and the private sector - Go for Gold is a partnership between the public and private sectors in the Western Cape which provides disadvantaged youth with learning and career opportunities in construction. This collaboration sets the youth on a secure career path while offering corporate partners a reliable way of recruiting from a skilled and motivated labour pool.

The biggest driver for the Review was to highlight the way in which implementers are having real impact through the way they respond to challenges in and the lessons that can be shared across programmes.

“The key lesson that emerged was around the nurturing of relationships and how much this cuts across the different programmes we are working on,” says Louise. “There’s a magic that’s happening in these organisations. It’s not just effective programme design and implementation but it’s the integrity of the vision and the community engagement that drives them.

“On par with uncovering the lessons, the purpose of this Review is also to celebrate the good news. Despite the challenges in the education journey, we’re seeing this wonderful work that’s taking place at significant scale with commendable impact, and we wanted to shine a light on that often-untold narrative."

The review can be downloaded from the Innovation Education website

The case studies database can be accessed at


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