Saide’s interpretation of what constitutes the schooling sector (for managing aspects of our work) is that it is the educational offerings from Grades 5 to 12 in schools other than the technical colleges which we place in the further education and training sector. Although distance education, without sufficient support, is seen as not being appropriate for younger children, Saide believes that there is a role for open learning and distance education, particularly with regard to out-of-school youth. Saide has also been extensively involved in research into open schooling and evaluations of open schooling systems in neighbouring countries. Sir John Daniel, former President of the Commonwealth of Learning noted in a publication on Open Schooling that there were 40 million more children in school in 2006 than in 1999. This exponential growth of primary school enrollments was unfortunately not matched by corresponding expansion at secondary school level. As a result many countries are exploring the possibility of using open learning and distance education methods to accommodate
Over the years we have also explored the role that additional resources, such as education centres, quality learning materials, the use of ICTs in education can improve the teaching and learning experience in schools, particularly in under-resourced areas.
Saide is also very concerned about the impact that family responsibilities have on the education of orphans and vulnerable children, particulary those affected or infected by HIV and AIDS and various of our projects have explored mechanisms.
Examples of our work in the schooling sector
- Gauteng Primary Literacy Strategy: Evaluation of the quality of the literacy resource packages being used in the Gauteng Primary Literacy Strategy.
- Zenex Evaluation of the Use of the Concept Literacy (CLP) Books: Evaluation of the extent and manner of the CLP books in General and Further Education and Training. The CLP books are teacher resource books that identify key maths and science concepts and are available in Afrikaans, isiZulu and isiXhosa.
- KwaZulu Natal and North West Province Education Development Support Centres and Schools as Centres of Care and Support Evaluation: Formative and summative evaluation of the development of education centres and HIV/AIDS programmes in Kwazulu Natal and the North West Province.
- Managing the Impact of HIV and AIDS in Schools: Given the impact of HIV and AIDS on South Africa in general and our education system in particular, Saide embarked on a research project to collect evidence of good school-based strategies for supporting vulnerable learners.
- Department of Education Inclusion Project: Development of materials on “Curriculum adaptation and screening” for the Sisonke Consortium who were providing training and capacity development to 30 primary schools that will be converted into full-service schools; 30 special schools that were to be converted into resource centres, and 30 district-based support teams.
- National Department of Education Portal – Thutong: Saide's role in this project was twofold: Design and piloting of the education portal, including database design and Collection and addition of policy document, professional development and educational research documents to the portal.
- Open Learning in General and Further Education and Training: This project aimed to develop a detailed understanding of what open learning entails, and its practical policy implications for South Africa and prepare a report on strategies for facilitiating an open learning environment throughout all General and Further Education.
- A School-based Educational Broadcasting Service for South Africa: A Strategic Plan Developed for the South African Broadcasting Service: Our research focuses on conceptualizing and planning a school-based educational broadcasting service. In planning the implementation process, we attend to the contextual realities that will impact on various aspects on the service. Some risk exists, and is particularly acute with regard to a school broadcasting service in South Africa. We argue that, while some readers may disagree with the choices we have made about which processes and factors to focus on, it is indisputable that the context within which a school broadcasting service will be implemented is continuously changing.