Print Icon


Learner attendance as a proxy for

the After School outcomes we desire

Monitoring and Evaluation is an essential part of our work, yet it can often be an enigmatic practice to comprehend or even implement. What does it mean for organisations to be informed by their M&E systems, and why should it matter beyond submitting periodic metrics to funders?

This past quarter, our Western Cape Community of Practice (CoP) spent time looking at the importance of M&E, specifically, the best practices for a Data-Driven Approach to our work. This approach reminds us that it is not enough to simply collect data, in whatever form, but it's important for organisations to build a culture of Evidence-Based Decision-Making (EBDM). EBDM culture is informed by a good understanding of accurate data capturing.

The key to this is, firstly, being intentional about collecting only what is necessary– which is informed by an organisation’s objectives and outcomes. Secondly, staff need to have a regular review and evaluation of captured data. Feed back from this is important to inform decision-making, which can often take a lot of time and capacity. Ultimately, the purpose is to help organisations understand what is working best, what isn’t, and what can be done differently to improve the impact of their work.


So where does one begin? Something as simple as monitoring learner attendance and programme dosage is a good starting point.

If you run an After School Programme (ASP) that works closely with a school to reach your target group, then programme attendance – in relation to the learner profile and performance at school – can be used as a proxy for positive learner outcomes, reduced learner drop-out and reduced ‘risky’ behaviour.

In this case, learner attendance, or lack thereof, can enable us to assess our programme’s effectiveness, and review areas of consideration, including:

  1. Is the programme held in a safe, stimulating and conducive environment? 
  2. Is your programme targeting the right group of learners it seeks to impact? 
  3. Does your programme’s content and methodology(style and approach) suit the learners targeted?
  4. Do all your practitioners/ volunteers/ implementers follow the correct and desired methodology for the target group and context? 
  5. Does the programme have buy-in from the teachers, parents and broader community?
  6. Does the programme complement the language of teaching and learning at the school?

As TLT, we recognise how important it is as a sector to build a culture of EBDM and start to consistently track learner attendance, which would go far to provide evidence that #AfterSchoolWorks. For this reason, we have begun initial conversations with some of our partners on the best ways to strengthen collective data systems and tools that can be widely used across the sector. We look forward to sharing these plans with you all as they unfold and concretise!


Looking at fundraising strategies a little differently

We are currently living through unfavourable economic conditions globally that affect a sector that thrives on continuous resource mobilisation and the generosity of others. Despite having good quality programmes with proven results, many After School organisations continue to face challenges in raising their year-on-year budgets to enable them to implement their programmes successfully.

TLT’s grantee, the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Africa(BGCSA), has invested time in understanding different funding streams and developed useful strategies to approach each stream. As part of our second instalment of the Director’s Circle in Johannesburg, Laura Parker of BGCSA facilitated a session that focused on improving fundraising generally, and more specifically, strengthening Individual Giving.

What informs the fundraising streams that you decide to focus on as a non-profit leader? Consider the capacity of your organisation against the standard practice of: researching potential funders, building and maintaining relationships with them, and meeting funders’ own requirements. 

Whilst most funding comes with contractual commitments, Individual Giving provides an opportunity for organisations to access unrestricted funds with limited reporting and accounting requirements. Individual Giving entails building a community that supports the mission of our organisations, and contributes their time and money towards its success.

With the day-to-day demands on non-profit leaders, investing in building a community of Givers can have the following advantages:

  • Giving is generally in smaller amounts, with 60 million South Africans, and others around the world, as potential options.
  • Giving is generally unrestricted, with organisations empowered to make decisions about how to best use those funds. 
  • Giving does not require Annual Financial Statements and onerous reporting.

There is great opportunity to promote Individual Giving in this country, a phenomenon that has gained much more traction globally. In this regard, TLT supports the Collaborative, Co-owned, Innovative, Data driven, and Global #GivingTuesday initiative fu­eled by the power of social media and collab­oration. 

On 3 December 2019, you may join the #GivingTuesdaySA Movement and give - whether it’s some of your time, a donation, gift or the power of your voice in your local community. It’s a simple idea.  

For more information and to take part in this initiative, visit the Giving Tuesday SA website.


The OASIS School of Dialogue redefines 

meaningful collaboration

‘Collaboration’ is somewhat of a buzz word - frequently promoted and encouraged in our area of work. It’s often seen as the answer to resource mobilisation, increased funding opportunities, expansion goals, and even increased impact. 

When collaborating, organisations often look for shared visions, contextual similarities and a common purpose as the glue that links the partners and ensures their collective success. What is often missing, however, is an acknowledgement of the complex organisational identities as well as the experience of and common understanding between the individuals tasked with leading that collaborative work. From this perspective, we are asked to consider how collaborating entities can ensure that they not only develop and advance the joint project, but also look to nurture and support the individuals involved in the development. 

It is this collective reflection that informed the first OASIS School of Dialogue (OSD) workshop by our CoP members in Port Elizabeth, in partnership with the Centre for Community Schools at Nelson Mandela University. The OSD emerged as a dialogical space to not only practically explore the challenges that arise from collaborating, but to also recognise, interrogate and nurture the development of the individual identities driving the change.

The start-up workshop allowed the CoP members to reflect on the journey of their collaboration thus far, tackling important questions such as,

  • Who should hold the power to drive the decisions made?
  • How do we ensure that everyone’s voice is heard?
  • What individual assumptions (of each other, the project, and the beneficiaries) are the members willing to change in order to support a healthy collaboration?

Through these periodic dialogues, the CoP participants strive to develop mutual bonds of openness and trust that further strengthens the collaboration, and whatever complex challenges that may arise in the course of their project.

As a support institution that often works intimately with leadership and staff to build internal organisational capacity, The Learning Trust recognises the value of the deep socio-culturally conscious approach taken by the OASIS CoP and encourages such considerations on the journey of building meaningful partnerships across the sector. These considerations are especially vital within the precarious nature and complex contexts of our work. 

To learn more about the OASIS CoP and the emerging space of the School of Dialogue, reach out to Monica at


A lesson on inclusive collaboration from 

the 2019 National Imbizo

This past September, Nelson Mandela University’s Centre for Community Schools (CCS) and the University of Cape Town’s Schools Improvement Initiative (SII) hosted a three-day National Imbizo on partnerships between schools, communities and universities.

The Imbizo explored themes pertaining to education and the community school, engagement and scholarship (research), as well as teaching and learning. It sought to place the learner at the center of discursive outcomes, in an attempt to understand how these partnerships can work together to create enriching environments that are conducive for teaching and learning and overall learner development.

It was incredible to witness the critical dialogical approach taken by the participants, who brought their strong voices into the space, and both critiqued and offered solutions to a number of challenges faced by practitioners and recipients in the field of educational development. As such, there was a sense of co-ownership and co-creation which allowed for honest engagement.

During the reflective discussions, participants from the NPO/CBO/Volunteer stakeholder group raised concerns over the limited inclusion and lack of acknowledgement given to many of them in the national conversation on school partnerships. They pointed out that they have often acted as a key unifying stakeholder in initiating relationships between schools, universities and communities. This was a catalytic moment on the second day of the Imbizo which influenced the rest of the discussions and key themes. It culminated in an undertaking by the Imbizo organisers to take forward the ‘Plans of Action’ recommended by participants, and to involve excluded stakeholders in plans going forward. 

Ultimately, there was an understanding that the Imbizo acted as a starting point for further collaborative work, and that tangible change needed to be informed by all the stakeholders involved and affected.


A new role in Communications & Advocacy

We are delighted to announce that Somila Mjekula has taken on a new role as our Communications and Advocacy Officer, and is now based in our Muizenberg office in Cape Town.

Somila has worked with TLT for the past three years as the Eastern Cape Programme Officer, and holds a Masters Degree in Media & Cultural Studies, with over 5 years of experience in the non-profit education sector. In her role, Somila leads our Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning, Advocacy, and Communications to demonstrate the impact of the After School sector.



Western Cape CoP 
06 November 
Eastern Cape CoP
07 November