Minister Schäfer launches new tool that maps NGO work in Western Cape schools

Debbie Schafer, MPP

Western Cape Minister of Education

I am very excited to announce a new initiative in the Western Cape that will further develop and enhance the partnerships we have with civil society in improving the quality of education in this province.

The Western Cape Education Department and Bridge, a non-governmental organisation, have developed a new tool for mapping NGO work in Western Cape schools.

 

The new system will make it possible for the WCED and civil society to work together and to use their resources as effectively and efficiently as possible, where they are needed the most.

The new online system is the first of its kind in the country. The WCED and Bridge have developed the system as a World Design Capital 2014 project.

Bridge works nationally to facilitate and support participation by NGOs in education and supports more than 700 organisations in education in the Western Cape.

We, alone as Government, cannot guarantee a better life. Each of us has a role and specific responsibilities. That is why the Western Cape Government has adopted the slogan “Better Together” to capture and convey its message to the people of the Western Cape.

As a government, we are always open to discussing and exploring the ways in which partnerships can be forged to improve access to quality education in this province. These partnerships include NGO’s who are involved in a wide range of activities, including school leadership, teacher and youth development, HIV support, drug awareness, sport, cultural activities, and language and maths tutoring, among many others.

The WCED is investing R16.4-billion on core education in our schools this year, which includes massive investment in textbooks, teacher development, IT infrastructure and strategies to improve language and maths performance, retention rates and the quality of our matric results. However learning does not only happen during school hours.

Parents, communities and civil society also have crucial roles to play in supporting education and youth development, especially after school hours and in the broader community.

NGOs are already providing a lot of this support.

A concern of ours has been that this support is often unequally distributed, both in terms of the kind of support provided and the concentration of effort.

We also often don’t know where NGOs are providing this support, and what impact they are having.

Therefore in order to streamline our efforts and to improve this partnership the WCED and Bridge began discussing ways in which to coordinate efforts by NGOs. Today is the culmination of that process.

The database was designed in collaboration with the Centre for e-Innovation (CEI) in the Department of the Premier and will benefit both the WCED and NGOs working in the education sector.

The WCED will benefit by obtaining a better understanding of which organisations are working in which areas, and what issues they are addressing.

NGOs will be able to use the database to find out where they could best provide their services, and what kinds of services are most needed.

NGOs will also be able to use the database to share ideas and learn from each other.

The system will map the participation of NGOs in schools across the province, and the kinds of work they are engaged in, using a geographic information system (GIS).

The WCED and NGOs will therefore be able to see at a glance where NGO support is most needed, and to check whether or not certain interventions are concentrated in any particular area, whilst not depriving other areas.

Bridge will manage the database on behalf of our partnership. This will include encouraging NGOs to capture their information and verify the data.

The new system which is now live and can be found on the Western Cape Government website (http://educollaborate.westerncape.gov.za). We appeal to all NGO’s to register on the database so that we can collaborate more effectively for the benefit of our learners.

It is envisaged that the system will help enormously to ensure transparency and cooperation in education, and will provide an excellent addition to the range of instruments we are developing to improve the quality of education using information technology.