National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT)

This project supports the design and implementation of learning programmes for Foundation Phase, and provides Monitoring & Evaluation Technical Support to assist with the evaluation of the Foundation Phase component of the NECT programme.

Name of organisation/service provider:  NECT, JET Education Services, Class Act & PILO (Programme to Improve Learning Outcomes)

Duration of Project: 2016 - 2019

Programme: Systemic Programme

Where is the project based: National


The NECT is an implementing arm of the Education Collaboration Framework (ECF), a partnership strategy that embodies key strategic interventions aimed at transforming the South African education system.

It has galvanised public and private sector stakeholders to collaborate to improve education outcomes. The NECT programmes are designed with the ultimate aim of integrating them into government programmes.

Their programmes include Education Dialogues, Innovation, Local Projects, Systemic Intervention and District Improvement Programmes. The Zenex Foundation supports the Learning Programme in the Foundation Phase (Home Language, English First Additional Language and Numeracy), which falls under the District Improvement Programme (DIP). The Learning Programme is focused on providing relevant quality resources, with teacher training and support to enhance learner outcomes.

Details of the project intervention

The Zenex Foundation is one of the key partners in the collaboration. The nature of Zenex support is two pronged:

  • Strategic and technical support: (i) Zenex participated in the advisory committee that steered the establishment of the NECT; (ii) Zenex is also represented in the Education Dialogue programme which generates proposals for national policy debate and advocacy; (iii) The Foundation provides monitoring and evaluation technical support.
  • Funding Support: The Foundation has provided funding for the core operation costs as well as the development of the monitoring and evaluation framework for the NECT. In addition, the Foundation supports the Learning Programme (LP) which is located within the DIP.

The Learning Programme is being implemented in eight districts in five provinces, with a focus on 413 Fresh Start Schools (FSS), 171 of which are primary schools. This will provide insights before scaling up to firstly, all schools in the eight districts, and then nationally. The Fresh Start Schools were identified by the circuit managers from a wider population of schools in order to deliver an intensive programme which will show visible and verifiable improvements in learning outcomes. NECT selected and appointed four Lead agents to roll out the DIP.

The Learning Programme

The Learning Programme is located within the National Teacher Development Framework. This is a comprehensive framework covering the lifespan of teachers from their initial training to their induction and ongoing professional development. One of the most critical areas of the plan is career-long professional learning and development for current teachers. The NECT Learning Programme is located within in-service teacher development focusing on Teacher Content Knowledge, Curriculum Planning and Management, and Professional Growth and is well aligned with the priorities set out in the integrated strategic planning framework.

The essential features of the Learning Programme are as follows:

  1. It provides sets of documents and resources that are adjusted termly by a reference group which includes curriculum advisors, teachers and curriculum developers. These documents and resources are not textbooks, but are teaching aids for effective curriculum management.
  2. It provides the necessary scope, sequencing and pacing that is required to ensure adequate curriculum coverage.
  3. It facilitates effective planning for daily teaching.
  4. It has embedded within its structure and processes, systematic routines with which teachers become familiar and which begins to inform and guide their practice.
  5. It illustrates and applies the core methodologies of CAPS.
  6. It integrates assessment planning and practice by including tasks, rubrics, recording methods and exams.

NECT recognises that the implementation of the Learning Programme, as part of a national effort to improve the South African education system, will require medium-term planning, i.e. between five and ten years.

Rolling out in phases

There are three implementation phases of the Learning Programme from 2015 - 2020, namely:

Phase 1: Planning, Consulting, Piloting (2015): This phase focused on extensive stakeholder consultation and consensus building, both within the education sector and the wider stakeholders, including business and labour. This was accompanied by the piloting of interventions to provide evidence into the added value of new procedures, protocols and products, but also provide valuable perspectives about system-readiness and system capabilities moving forward.

Phase 2: NECT District Trial (2016 - 2017): Working in eight districts in five provinces, the NECT programme will develop or improve learning programmes in most if not all of the national languages, develop new procedures, protocols and products that address provincial realities.

Phase 3: System-Wide Implementation: While the Learning Programme is clearly targeted at priority schools that are below a minimum threshold in learning outcomes, they will be accessible to all public and independent schools. The goal in Phase 3 is for the Learning Programmes to be implemented by the provincial departments and that the training and support become part of on-going provincial and district activities. During this phase, a variety of resources will be made available through digital forums.


It is envisioned that overtime, the NECT in collaboration with the DBE, the unions and other stakeholders working in teacher development, will establish an electronic platform of resources to enhance and support the practice of teachers. Training and support will be available to reinforce the use of these resources. Content will be accessible through schools and 157 teacher centres throughout the country.


The training aims to:

  1. Build capacity at district level in curriculum management, support, content and logistics with the aim of long term sustainability.
  2. Orient teachers to the materials, to build content knowledge and pedagogical skills, to foster reflective practice and collaboration.

The training will be based on the cascade model as follows:

  • The first layer of training will be for master trainers. The master trainers will be taken through the facilitation and content of all the training sessions.
  • The second layer of training will be centralised training where the Lead Agents and district officials will be trained by the master trainers. At this level, the content will focus on train-the-trainer, building content knowledge and building classroom observation skills.
  • The third layer comprises the training of Fresh Start School teachers by the Lead Agents and district officials. The content of the training will include content knowledge, materials usage and classroom pedagogy.

Support Model

The NECT deems the localised support as crucial for teachers as they make changes in their teaching practices.

The support model has two different levels:

  1. School-based support: Provides school-based support direct to teachers. This support is provided by NECT Lead Agents. Three support visits per school per subject per term are planed
  2. Cluster-based support: Provides cluster-based support to communities of teachers and NECT Lead Agents. The NECT Lead Agents will undertake support with District Subject Advisors who have been trained so as to build capacity of the District Subject Advisors for roll out.
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