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NECT District Improvement Programme – Structured Learning Programme



The NECT District Improvement Programme promotes a Structured Leaning Approach to provide support to teachers in low resource and low capability contexts. It provides scripted lesson plans, training and coaching.

Name of organisation/service provider: National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT)
Duration of Project: July 2018- June 2021
Programme: Systemic Programme
Where is the project based: National


The National Education Collaboration Trust (NECT) was established in 2013 to advance the call for inter-sectional, multi-stakeholder cooperation to improve education outcomes, outlined in the National Development Plan. It is the implementation arm of the Education Collaboration Framework (ECF), a strategic partnerships which rallies stakeholders in the public and private sector to transform the South African education system.

The Zenex Foundation has been a key partner since its inception. It served on the Advisory Committee which informed it’s establishment and has provided technical and financial support on an ongoing basis. The NECT has four broad strategic areas of work: District Improvement Programme; Information and communication Technology, Dialogues and the Future 100. The Zenex Foundation’s support has focussed on District Improvement Programme , in particular the Structured Learning Programme (SLP) for Foundation Phase. This choice was influenced by the fact that this programme aims to drive systemic change by improving teaching and learning at Foundation Phase Literacy and Numeracy.

The Project: The Structured Leaning Programme Foundation Phase

The Structured Learning Programme (SLP) is the most successful innovation in the District Improvement Programme. This programme provides teacher support in the form of detailed lessons plans for each component of the curriculum and also provides coaching and training for effective implementation of the lesson plans. The SLP was drawn from the Gauteng Primary Language and Maths Strategy (GPLMS) and also informed by the Early Grade Reading Study (EGRS). The GPLMS was aimed at increasing curriculum coverage using highly structured and scripted models to improve education outcomes at a systemic level. The EGRS provided evidence of positive linkages between onsite teacher coaching, combined with lesson plans and learner readers and improved learner performance. The NECTs work through the SLP has included the following:

  • Revising the lesson plans initially designed for the GPLMS drawing on feedback from districts, NECT monitoring data and consultations with teachers and experts. The NECT has revised lessons plans for mathematics, English First Additional Language and the following African home languages; IsiZulu, Setswana, Sepedi, Xitsonga, Tshivenda and IsiXhosa.
  • Developed training and coaching for HODs, subject advisors and teachers and implemented it in 14,769 schools across the country.
  • Developed instruments to track and monitor coverage of the CAPS curriculum.

The Foundation has supported the Structured Learning programme since 2011 when it was first developed by GPLMS and continues to do so. Below is a list of some of the ways

Developing and Revising Lesson Plans

The NECT is developing lesson plans in IsiSwati, IsiNdebele and Sesotho. It will revise the materials developed for Gauteng Primary Language and Maths Strategy in these languages to ensure they align with appropriate pacing, workbooks and graded readers.

Influencing policy on the role of Subject Advisors

Subject Advisors are a key feature of the Structured Learning Programme and an understanding of the role they play in different contexts needs to be documented. The objective is to influence government policy.
This will be achieved through the following process:

  1. A review of literature on the role and impact of subject advisors and those that hold similar support positions.
  2. An empirical research study that explores the services offered by subject advisors in South Africa.
  3. Stakeholder engagements on the role played by subject advisors in different contexts, their competences and explore measures to provide support to them.
  4. Develop a policy brief with evidence about the nature of subject advisors work, support measures, allocation of resources and proposed revision of the PAMS (Personnel Administrative Measures).

Collaboration of Reading/Literacy Interventions

This initiative aims to address South Africa’s challenges with low literacy rates through a nationally coordination and collaboration. This initiative has two components:

  1. Conduct a landscape analysis of all the literacy and reading projects implemented at scale.
  2. Host colloquia to distil and disseminate findings from the landscape analysis.

Monitoring within NECT

The NECT is committed to measuring impact of its interventions in order to promote evidence based interventions. Over the past three years the Zenex Foundation has provided and will continue to provide support to strengthen the NECT’s Monitoring and Evaluation support. 


The Zenex Foundation’s support for the Structured Learning Programme (SLP) for Foundation Phase is influenced by the fact that this programme aims to drive systemic change by improving teaching and learning in Foundation Phase Literacy and Numeracy.



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