One of the South African government’s key obligations, 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 funders and civil society organizations.
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 Partnership Schools program shows great promise.
The Partnership Schools program 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, non-profit, civil society organizations called school operating partners to manage no-fee schools and deliver the education processes and outcomes. The program aims to increase quality education options for poor families from within the government schooling system.
Beyond the expected positive impact on quality educational outcomes, we believe the Partnership Schools program can provide extraordinary opportunities for poorer learners and their families.