In an effort to continually strive for education excellence, the GM South Africa (GMSA) Foundation this week held a colloquium which addressed the binding constraints in education.
The aim of this seminar was to unpack the constraints that prevent especially poor schools from thriving. Much research had been done on the topic by a team of economists from Stellenbosch University in 2015/2016, under the Programme to Support Pro-poor Policy Development (PSPPD), collaboration between the European Union and the South African Presidency.
Drawing on wide research, the team produced two interdependent reports. The first, entitled Identifying the Binding Constraints in Education starkly isolated four constraints that, if not rectified, prevent all other interventions from having any significant impact. The second report, Laying Firm Foundations: Getting Reading Right identified the central role of learning to read and then reading to learn by the end of Grade 3.
The main speakers at the Colloquium were Prof Servaas van der Berg and Dr Gabrielle Willis broth from the Stellenbosch University whose Research on Socio Economic Policy (RESEP) unit produced this outstanding report.
Arising from two decades of school development work, the GMSA Foundation recognises the strategic importance of this binding constraints report as it gives new clarity and impetus to school development by diagnosing the systemic challenges.
According to Andre Forbes, Education Project Manager for the GMSA Foundation, the main recommendations also resonate with the key focus areas of the GMSA Foundation and reinforce the Foundation’s long-term priorities. “The aim of the colloquium was therefore to look at the four binding constraints plus literacy and to seek collective solutions to deal with them,” he said.
The constraints are: weak institutional functionality, undue union influence, weak teacher content knowledge and pedagogical skill and wasted learning time and insufficient opportunity to learn.
Forbes said the findings of the report were so focused and compelling that the GMSA Foundation is eager to support an expanding discourse about understanding how to set about making a real difference.