South Africa CREATE dissemination week 25th to 29th July 2011

The South African CREATE team had a very successful set of dissemination activities from the 25th to 29th July in Johannesburg and Pretoria, South Africa. It began with a briefing lunch to the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Johannesburg, Professor Ihron Rensburg who is also a member of the National Planning Commission on the 25th July. Professor Keith Lewin and members of the CREATE International team, Professor Joseph Ghartey from Ghana, Dr Madhumita Bandyopadhyay from India, Dr Manzoor Ahmed from Bangladesh and Professor Shireen Motala, convenor of the South Africa CREATE team shared their findings and Veerle Dieltiens, Lead Researcher, shared their findings.

On the evening of the 25th, Professor Adam Habib, Deputy Vice Chancellor, hosted the CREATE global symposium and launch which had the theme Making Rights Realities at the University Council Chamber at the University of Johannesburg. The formal opening was undertaken by Mr Enver Surty, the Honourable Deputy Minister of Basic Education. Important contributions were made by Professor Keith Lewin who critically appraised international strategies on Education for All. The key note discussant was Professor Linda Chisholm , spoke on issues related to the global and the local and the challenges of achieving equity and quality in South African education. Members of the international CREATE team provided important insights from their country perspective. A highlight was the launch of the four CREATE book publications from India, Bangladesh, South Africa and London. This was followed by a CREATE reception with robust and interesting discussion continuing once the formal proceedings had concluded.

On the 26th July, the CREATE Policy Dialogue Conference took place with the theme of Getting to 2025: Meeting the Twin Imperatives of Equity and Quality in Education. Chaired by Dr Trevor Coombe, the opening plenary was presented by Mr Bobby Soobrayan, the Director General of Basic Education where he raised the challenges of education equity in South Africa in the context of vast social inequalities. The second plenary provided wide ranging empirical evidence from the CREATE research on school drop-out, progression and over-age and under-age enrolment and learning and equitable access. The presenters included Professor Brahm Fleisch, Dr Nick Taylor, Ms Sarah Meny Gibert and Dr David Gilmour. The third plenary deepened the understanding of classroom practice and parental involvement in schooling with presentations from Professor Hamsa Venkat, the Numeracy Chair in the Wits School of Education and Mr Gift Luxomo, Wits EPU and Mr Elvis Ngwenya from the University of Fort Hare. The final panel of the day brought together the senior leadership in government who provided a critical appraisal of the CREATE research and its contribution to policy making. Making research relevant to policy was raised and Mr Kuben Naidoo head of the Secretariat of the National Planning Commission addressed the key concern with accountability and the importance of this in our pursuit of delivering a quality education.

On the 27th July, an international symposium was hosted by CREATE South Africa and the Centre for Indian Studies in South Africa (CISA), University of the Witwatersrand. Professor Crain Soudien, Deputy Vice-Chancellor from the University of Cape Town chaired the symposium and much more detail engagements took place on the different country perspectives on education access. Topics considered included overcoming equity and quality hurdles in primary education in Bangladesh, Education Financing and Affordability of Schooling in India and addressing enrolment, attendance and nutrition in meaningful access to schooling in Ghana.

On the following days, engagements were held with the Department of Basic Education. The general view was that the CREATE framework and its focus on meaningful access had enormous resonance with the complexity of post apartheid education reform. The concept of silent exclusion and children who are in school and learning very little , overage and their slow progression and the gendered nature of access in South Africa , discussed and covered in the CREATE research resonated with much of what policy makers were indentifying as key challenges.

The CREATE research received much attention in the media, including a three part series in the Mail and Guardian in July, radio broadcasts on SA FM and Jozi FM, and an interview with Keith Lewin on SABC 2 on national television.

CREATE South Africa have completed drafting a book that will be published by HSRC. Finding Place and Keeping Pace has fourteen chapters by sixteen authors capturing key insights from the empirical research.