It was a happy coincidence that during Teacher Appreciation Month JumpStart won the 2020 MTN Award for Social Change! This primary school mathematics education and youth employment programme is benefiting 22 000 foundation phase learners in the Ekurhuleni South District. The award, which attracted 143 entries across the three categories, was given in recognition for JumpStart’s excellent monitoring and evaluation (M&E) practice. General Manager, Callen Hodgskiss, received the award from Angie Maloka of the MTN Foundation at the Trialogue Business in Society conference on Wednesday, 14 October.
All stakeholders can make informed decisions because of good M&E
Maloka congratulated Hodgskiss, saying, “The judges felt that the intervention was designed with a high level of consultation and is focused on a clear problem, for which the root cause has been clearly analysed and unpacked. M&E has been embedded throughout the model to ensure that all stakeholders are able to use the feedback to make informed decisions.” A total of R1 million goes to four non-profit organisations, and JumpStart entered as a medium-sized NPOs with a total annual income greater than R5 million but less than R15 million.
M&E is in our DNA!
Hodgskiss expressed his pleasure: “The programme was created as a CSI initiative for JumpCo, a software engineering company. This means that data, systems and processes are central to what we do – they’re in the core of our DNA,” he said. The Ekurhuleni South project is funded by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation. “We’re enormously grateful to Dell Foundation,” continued Hodgskiss, “which is all about data driven programmes. Their support took us to the next level in terms of how we design our M&E.”
Endorsement from the Department of Education
Dineo Motaung, Deputy Curriculum Education Specialist at Ekurhuleni South District, added her congratulations, “This project is having an enormously positive impact on the learners in the district,” she said.
Hodgskiss articulated the base of the project’s M&E practice: “Our M&E relies on local youth interns who are trained to teach mathematics in under-resourced classrooms using our unique NumberSense workbooks. The foundation of our M&E practice is a daily recording of each child’s mathematics activity.
“This allows us to monitor what’s happening with each learner, how the learners are faring against the curriculum and against others in their cohort. Additionally, we can see how well each grade is progressing in each school. We monitor the overall progress of the project with this information. We’ve added a digital tool that automatically syncs to the platform, which enables continuous monitoring.
Learners need a solid maths foundation by the end of Grade 3
The Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA) is an independent digital assessment, which confirms that we are having a significant impact on the learners we’re supporting. Hodgskiss continued, “This award has given us the confidence that we need to scale up. This in turn, enables us to reach more learners and impact more young lives. We focus on early grade maths because the foundation phase is the base of the learning pyramid. Learners with a solid mathematical foundation by the end of Grade 3 more easily succeed through their entire schooling. Ensuring they have good numeracy skills enables them to contribute meaningfully to the economy.”
Hodgskiss has many years’ experience as a chartered accountant in the social justice space. He reflected that M&E practice is often just an admin hassle for NPO accountants, a tick box exercise. “JumpStart has a culture of M&E. From the bottom of the organisation to the top, interns to senior management, we are collecting and analysing the data. We use the data to drive the programme for better impact and performance. Last year, we were shortlisted for the MTN award, which helped us refine our focus. Our M&E helps us to design the programme too.”
Monitoring and measuring comes first
JumpStart CEO, Stephen Mahony, expressed his gratitude to MTN. “It’s so exciting to see all our hard work – and one of our core values – echoed in this award. This recognition spurs us on. We believe firmly that monitoring and measuring what you do comes before deciding what you do.
“This award has given us an incentive to sit down and reflect thoroughly on our M&E, and to find ways to improve our programme. Long may the award continue!”
Mahony said the MTN Award could not have happened without the field team and the people on the ground. “Thank you to all our partners and teachers, principals and sponsors who believe in us.”
Partner with JumpStart to invest in future teachers
Would you like to support mathematical skills in under-resourced South African schools? Please consider a donation to The JumpStart Foundation Trust or partner with us. We are a Public Benefit Organisation with the goal of accelerating South African youth into the digital economy through education, qualification and employment. Please email Betty Oliphant for information on how to meet your BBEEE obligations.