As the Old Mutual Education Flagship Project comes to an end in 2019, after seven years, a key learning is the importance of collaboration between private sector, government and civil society. This, according to Kanyisa Diamond, Old Mutual Foundation senior project manager, who briefed delegates at the Trialogue Business in Society Conference 2019 about the Foundation’s learnings from the project.
About the Od Mutual Education Flagship Project
In 2013, the Old Mutual Foundation launched a seven-year, multi-partner, national education initiative to invest R350 million into a set of under-performing, average and good South African public schools located in 10 school circuits. Through this project, Old Mutual aimed to influence the lives of 250 000 learners at 250 schools located in seven provinces, supporting initiatives that would build excellence, especially in mathematics and science at secondary school level. The ultimate objective was to see an increase in the number of learners passing these subjects so that they could gain access to tertiary education opportunities and ultimately help grow South Africa’s skilled workforce.
The interventions at schools were intended to assist in developing the leadership, management and governance of the school, including at district level. They also focused on providing resources, including digital resources, for the teaching and learning of mathematics and science. Through this, they aimed to develop mathematics and science teachers to assist learners in improving their educational outcomes.
Focus for impact
Diamond said they soon realised they did not have enough resources to adequately achieve their outcomes. “That is why we pulled back to four provinces,” she said. Overall, 327 schools were supported in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, the Eastern Cape and the Free State education districts. “To bring about lasting change, we needed to work with schools for much longer than anticipated. We became committed to the journey for each school until the culture was embedded in system.”
Collaboration is key
The complexity in the education sector was a key learning curve that brought about the realisation that collaboration was key to success. “We asked people to join us, instead of inviting them from the outset in a joint and equally-owned initiative,” said Diamond. “What we learnt was that we should actively seek collaboration with strategic partners to leverage and complement what we were doing. Collaboration and equal ownership will allow for greater systemic impact,” she said.
As such, Diamond believes collaboration should be top of mind of any organisation driving change. “We need to see deliberate collaboration between the private sector, government and civil society if we are going to reach the 2030 National Development Goals in time,” she said. “It is time to collaborate and coordinate ourselves differently with a common goal and clear vision.”
Partnering with government
Of vital importance was collaborating and partnering with the government, specifically in this case, the Department of Basic Education. As the seven-year Old Mutual Education Flagship Project comes to an end, the next stage of their vision has taken off. Key to this has been collaboration with government.
They have partnered with the Eastern Cape Department of Basic Education and the Seed Education Trust to scale up their leadership interventions in the province.
“We worked with schools and circuit managers and we wanted to leave them in a system that could sustain itself,” Diamond said. “We needed to scale up to provincial level where all circuit managers are being equipped, so that the system has the capacity to support schools better.”
Diamond said that the sector requires a socio-political and economic framework that determines the outcomes of success of these projects. “What is missing is the correlation of what schools are producing and what the market place needs,” she said.
IMAGE: Kanyisa Diamond shares insight from the Old Mutual Education Flagship Project
Article written by Matthew le Cordeur
Photo taken by Cobus Oosthuizen