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U.S. Ambassador and Deputy Minister of Basic Education Launch $7.5 million program to improve Education in South Africa


J.P. Morgan, USAID and the ELMA Foundation provide funding for innovative education partnership

Pretoria – U.S. Ambassador to South Africa Donald H. Gips and South African Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty today launched a unique $7.5 million public-private partnership designed to improve primary grade reading outcomes by building teacher effectiveness and strengthening classroom and school management.

A partnership between USAID, the Department of Basic Education (DBE), the ELMA Foundation, and J.P. Morgan, the School Capacity & Innovation Program (SCIP) has been designed to identify and support outstanding South African educational innovations, rather than presenting predetermined solutions to the literacy challenge in South Africa.

By focusing on South African solutions to South Africa’s challenges, SCIP will provide the resources to education partners who have already demonstrated innovation, impact and a vision for growth. This will allow each implementer to carefully refine, rigorously test and thoughtfully expand their solutions to ensure effective change.

”There is no greater challenge to South Africa’s future than improving the quality of its education,” said the U.S. Ambassador to South Africa, Mr. Donald H. Gips. “It has been one of my top priorities since arriving here. That is why I am so excited to be inaugurating this innovative partnership, together with the Department of Basic Education, to improve teacher quality.”

In the first three years of its implementation, the programme aims to reach approximately two million learners (nearly 20% of the country’s learner population) and about 70,000 teachers (approximately one third of the teaching corps) across South Africa. Post year three, the projects will be expanded to reach even larger numbers.

The South African government has identified improving the quality of education as a national priority through its national reform strategies, Delivery Agreement and the Action Plan to 2014: Towards the Realisation of Schooling 2025, which outline specific actions to build teacher effectiveness and strengthen classroom and school management. The DBE has been an integral part of the creation of SCIP and will continue to be critical in the eventual scale-up of the projects.

“The Department of Basic Education has worked closely with the funding partners to design SCIP and is committed to this programme. The partners have jointly designed a uniquely South African programme to address the specific needs and challenges that face educational development,” said the Minister of Basic Education, Ms Angelina Motshekga. “The Department of Basic Education would like to thank USAID, The ELMA Foundation and J.P. Morgan for their funding that has been committed to supporting the Department to achieve its goals.”

While many factors contribute to improved learning and reading gains, studies have shown that the single most critical factor in determining the quality of education a child receives is the quality of her/his teacher. SCIP therefore aims to improve learning and reading outcomes by focusing on building teacher effectiveness and strengthening classroom management. SCIP also aims to improve learning and reading outcomes by improving school management. Second only to the influences of classroom instruction, school leadership and management strongly affects student learning.

SCIP will initially work with three implementing organisations—the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), siyaJabula siyaKhula, and the Mindset Network. HSRC is South Africa’s national social science council while siyaJabula siyaKhula and the Mindset Network are local non-profit organisations. The implementing organisations offer a diverse set of innovative approaches to building teacher capacity. These range from a computerised assessment system to track student performance, to the creation of digital content for teacher development and hands-on community-based literacy training for small groups of students.

“This public private partnership is the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa targeting a core area of focus for the JPMorgan Chase Foundation,” said John Coulter, Senior Country Officer, J.P. Morgan sub-Saharan Africa. “Through our education programs across South Africa and beyond, we know firsthand the importance and impact of training teachers and school leaders on the development of students, and we are confident that working with best-in-class partners will help us get to systemic, sustainable change in the quality of education provision in South Africa.”

Bernadette Moffat, Executive Director of ELMA Philanthropies Services Africa, added:

“ELMA believes that education revolves around potential. Exposing young minds to education unlocks the creative, economic, personal and civic potential in every child. By supporting the early attainment of requisite literacy skills SCIP seeks to ensure that the highest potential of children in South Africa is unlocked. Importantly, SCIP leverages not only funds, but also a vast amount of experience and impressive abilities from each partner to create a project that is much more than just the sum of the parts.”

The programme started rolling out in July 2012 and will run until the end of June 2015 throughout South Africa.

The Department of Basic Education (DBE)

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) was formed when the then National Department of Education was split into two: DBE and the Department of Higher Education and Training. DBE has been tasked with overseeing primary and secondary education in South Africa. The DBE’s vision is that of “a South Africa in which all people have access to lifelong learning, as well as education and training, which will, in turn, contribute towards improving the quality of life and building a peaceful, prosperous and democratic South Africa.

The Minister of Basic Education is Minister Angie Motshekga. She has been involved in education since 1981 when she was a teacher at Orlando High School. She has since held various positions, the most recent being the President of the ANC Women’s League and a member of the ANC’s NEC. The Deputy Minister of Basic Education is Mr Mohamed Enver Surty. He has a BA degree and an honours degree in Philosophy, a B.Proc degree, a LLM degree in Constitutional Litigation and a Post Graduate Certificate in Higher Education.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

USAID is an independent U.S. federal government agency that supports international development and U.S. foreign policy objectives through programs in key sectors, including education. USAID has funded education in South Africa since 1986. Until the end of Apartheid, funds were directed exclusively to non-governmental organizations, primarily for scholarships. In 1994, a robust government-to-government partnership began. USAID is South Africa’s largest bi-lateral donor in education, with over $400 million in contributions made through 2009. USAID’s education projects span from early childhood through higher education, ranging from Takalani Sesame Street, to the Dinaledi Schools project, to policy support and district development. In 2010, Vice President Biden announced a renewed commitment to education in South Africa, which was followed in 2011 by the development of the School Capacity and Innovation Program (SCIP).

The ELMA Foundation

The ELMA Group of Foundations provides philanthropic assistance to children and communities in Africa and to selected programs in the USA and the UK. It is also a provider of humanitarian relief to assist people affected by disasters in any region of the world.

The ELMA Foundation aims to improve the lives of Africa’s children and youth through the support of sustainable efforts to relieve poverty, advance education and promote health. The ELMA Foundation works in three program areas; health, education and special opportunities that may bridge the Education and Health program strategies.

The ELMA Foundation makes investments in education that:

Better prepare children to learn and engage in their education at school through Early Childhood Development (ECD), supporting stronger cognitive development, increased stimulation and improved health and nutrition
Enhance teacher development and support
Strengthen school leadership, governance and management

For more information on ELMA, please visit

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE: JPM) is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $2.3 trillion and operations in more than 60 countries. The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers, small business and commercial banking, financial transaction processing, asset management and private equity. J.P. Morgan is the Corporate and Investment Banking arm of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Further information about J.P. Morgan is available at

The JPMorgan Chase Foundation is an affiliate of JPMorgan Chase & Co. Its mission is to be a catalyst for meaningful, positive and sustainable change within the highest-need neighbourhoods and communities across the world. Through strategic partnerships with organisations, it focuses its investments towards the most vulnerable people and supports sustainable programmes that have a clear and measurable impact. The firm’s philanthropic investments are directed toward Community Development, Education and Arts & Culture. In 2011, JPMorgan Chase and its Foundation gave more than $200 million through grants and sponsorships to thousands of not-for-profit organizations across 34 countries.

Information about JPMorgan Chase & Co. is available at

SCIP implementing partners

Mindset Network

Mindset Network is a South African based non-profit organization that was founded in 2002. Mindset develops and distributes quality and contextually relevant educational resources for use in the schooling, health and vocational sectors. Materials are distributed through various technology platforms, including broadcast and the internet. Mindset Network leverages satellite technology to distribute its materials on a mass scale to schools, clinics and other centres of learning across Southern Africa. Through external funding, Mindset provides sites with the necessary equipment to receive its materials, and trains teachers and health care workers in the use and integration of the Mindset infrastructure and materials.

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

The HSRC is a leading South African research agency. The core business of the HSRC is to conduct large-scale, policy-relevant, social-scientific projects for public-sector users, non-governmental organisations and international development agencies. This is done in partnership with researchers globally, but specifically in Africa.

As a statutory organization, its activities are governed by its own founding legislation as well as by the Public Finance Management Act. The HSRC is accountable to the South Africa Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, to which it reports on an annual basis.

SiyaJabula siyaKhula

SiyaJabula siyaKhula is a non-profit organization that has been operating since March 2009. The organisation employs and remunerates unemployed post-matric learners, parents and members of school communities who are trained to provide specially designed interventions to learners under the guidance of experienced specialists.

SiyaJabula siyaKhula was created in response to results of the 2008 South African National Education Survey which revealed that most of the 12.2 million learners in the education system then were not able to fully access the work being presented to them in class. To assist in addressing this challenge, the founder, Mrs Pat Murray (a former teacher with extensive educational experience) developed what she calls the Learner Regeneration methodology and teacher capacitation strategy which rebuilds learner foundations in Maths/Numeracy and Language/Literacy.

SiyaJabula siyaKhula’s inclusive process fosters community responsibility towards schools and the education process. Learners, parents, youth and interested community members all become involved in the process of educating children.


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