The South African government’s obligation, as outlined in the Constitution, is to ‘ensure the delivery of basic education to children’. Historically, learners have been educated in both government and private schools which receive government subsidies for educating children from poor communities. We believe that in South Africa, there is a compelling case for a ‘third sector’ of schools, which mobilizes all educational resources in the provision of quality education in underserved communities — resources from government, private sector and civil society.
Improving education in South Africa, where less than 1 in 20 children from a historically poor community will gain access to university, is going to take significant effort across a wide range of areas. While we believe no single fix will have a transformative effect, the recently launched Collaboration Schools shows great promise.
Collaboration Schools is a public-private partnership model — which has been successful in other countries but not yet tested in South Africa — where the government contracts independent school operating partners to manage schools and deliver the education processes and outcomes. The project aims to improve quality education options from within the government schooling system.
Our primary objective is to prove that the public-private partnership model can substantially increase access to quality education and improve outcomes for children from poorer communities. In support of this model, we have collaborated with a group of local and international funders for a number of years to create demand for this new sector of South African schools. This initiative also aims to improve the quality of teaching, management and governance in public schools. It will create mechanisms for transparency and quality improvement, and enable the state to leverage the private sector more effectively while at the same time enhancing regulation and quality control.
Beyond the expected positive impact on quality education, we believe Collaboration Schools can provide extraordinary opportunities for poorer learners and their families.