Improving monitoring and evaluation of foundation phase literacy intervention programmes
Mosepele, Keikantsemang Jeniffer
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The purpose of a Systemic Evaluation (SE) is to determine whether the intentions and expectations of policies of the Department of Education are being realised in practice. Systemic evaluation is undertaken to provide an insight into the level of learner performance, particularly in reading, writing and numeracy. All Provincial, National and International surveys have come out indicating that South African schools are not performing at their expected levels. The 2001, 2004 and 2007 Grade 3 National SE Research and the 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Annual National Assessment (ANA) results on literacy revealed low performance in reading and writing in the Foundation Phase. Improvement of learner performance is a priority of the Department of Education (DoE), and learner performance is a critical output indicator of the Education System. In an attempt to address the highlighted challenges, a plethora of plans, programmes and campaigns were introduced as an intervention. They include, among others, Foundations for Learning campaign (FFL), Quality Improvement Development and Support Upliftment- Programme (QIDS-UP) and Annual National Assessment (ANA). The performance of Grade 3 learners in literacy continues to be below average despite the number of intervention programmes introduced. Hence the study on improving Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of Foundation Phase Literacy intervention programmes. The performance of Foundation Phase learners in literacy, although it has improved slightly on ANA, is still not satisfactory compared to the inputs channelled to the entire Phase. The research literature reviewed from journals, publications, and articles decades ago revealed gaps, which compromise efforts to improve Monitoring and Evaluation of Foundation Phase Literacy intervention programmes. Literature was also reviewed in terms of Monitoring and Evaluation and it was found that there is a need for departmental officials to adapt Monitoring and Evaluation Strategies to enhance teaching and learning to improve learner performance in Foundation Phase literacy. This study used mainly a quantitative approach, with some qualitative, interpretive aspects regarding the use of document analysis. It is a comparative study in which the North West (NW) was compared to Limpopo (L) and Free State (FS) Provinces on Improving Monitoring and Evaluation of Foundation Phase Literacy intervention programmes. Data were collected using a questionnaire. Purposive sampling was used to sample respondents because of some defining characteristics that make them the holders of the data needed for this study. The sample included principals of primary schools, Foundation Phase Heads of Department (HOD), subject advisors for literacy and Foundation Phase teachers in rural areas. The researcher is of the view that the research will make a contribution to practitioners, policy makers and managers, because, amongst other things, it highlights the gaps identified in the implementation and monitoring and evaluation of intervention programmes in the Foundation Phase. Another contribution to research methodology was in the population of the study. This study made an exceptional mark by cutting across various rural Area Offices of all the four Districts of Education in the North West Province, one district (Sekhukhune) in Limpopo Province and two districts (Motheo and Fezile Dabi) in Free State provinces of South Africa. This made the findings of this study the most inclusive and generalisable across rural schools in the three provinces. Ultimately, the contribution made by this study to the body of knowledge is to show that there is a need for departmental officials to use both operational and M&E planning to ensure that departmental policies are implemented to the letter. We need to analyse the problem at hand; establish a theory on how to create change or address the challenge, and to develop intervention approaches based on practical situation on the ground. The relevant educational bodies need to use M&E to support intervention strategies and programmes for optimal delivery.