In the month of April and May 2020, JET Education Services (JET) engaged in an ambitious research bootcamp project in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. The project had twelve work streams This was a great opportunity for young researchers to work under the guidance of more experienced researchers/practitioners, but also to be part of an innovative online approach that will also allow for learning to take place between peers.
Themed #OpenupYourThinking, the project was an opportunity to: (1) contribute meaningfully to solutions and pressures being placed on the education systems using an evidence-based approach; (2) allow for real time inputs to be made into other national education processes, such as NASCEE, IPASA, DBE, NECT and others; and (3) keep a group of young researchers meaningfully occupied during the lockdown period, while giving them an opportunity to grow as they will be working under the guidance of experienced researchers.
The overarching research question to be answered was: What are the best mega-, meta- and micro-level educational strategies to be used during times of crisis? The emerging findings from the thematic streams have been shared with the public since mid-May 2020, and are starting to feed into relevant debates in the sector.
The Zenex Foundation partnered with the JET Research Bootcamp first through the provision of funding, and by seconding one of the Foundation’s Programme Managers, Mr Tshepo Motsepe, to serve as the research lead for Theme 6: Ameliorating the impact of Fake News on High School Learners during COVID-19. Zenex’s involvement was motivated by the need to work collaboratively towards a common goal of mitigating the impact of the pandemic on education. Most importantly, as a an organisation which forefronts learning from rigorous evidence generated through research, monitoring and evaluation, we believe that there is no better time than the present, to fast-track research to find innovative, long-term solutions to the challenges that plague our education, even in the best of times.