From January to March 2019, we worked with Western Cape Government’s Department of the Premier and After School Gamechanger to conduct a research assessment of after school programmes at schools. The education/youth development project was funded by The Western Cape Government.
The After School Game Changer programme was one of seven interventions or “game changers” identified by the Western Cape Government that were seen as most likely to improve opportunities and address some of the greatest challenges facing the citizens of the Western Cape. The Game Changer programmes were: skills development; energy security; high-speed broadband; eLearning; after-school activities; better living models; and alcohol harm reduction.
They were implemented by the Department of the Premier between 2015 and 2019 and have since been absorbed into their respective line departments.
The After School Game Changer was implemented in some of the 1059 no- and low-fee schools in the Western Cape province. This programme has since been incorporated into the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport as the After School Programme Office (ASPO).
The After School Game Changer worked to increase the participation of learners from no- and low-schools in after school activities, ensuring regular attendance by significantly improving the attractiveness and quality of such programmes for learners. By 2019 the target was to get 112,000 learners participating regularly in quality programmes – 20% of learners in no- and low-fee schools. This was a joint Game Changer in partnership with local government, provincial government departments, and a number of NGOs. The Mass participation; Opportunity and access; Development and growth (MOD) Programme was the flagship after school programme run by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS).
Between 2015 and 2018, baseline assessments were undertaken of all 181 MOD Centres and 93 After School Partial Care sites. These assessments were aimed at determining the scope of after school programmes offered at each school, run by the school and its staff, as well as by external organisations. In 2019, the After School Game Changer commissioned another assessment with the aim of measuring the progress in a sample of Western Cape schools with regard to After School Programmes (ASPs) against the baseline assessments conducted in 2018.
The main assessment question was “What is the status of facilities/centres that provide school after-care services as part of the After School Game Changer programme compared to the situation at the time of the baseline assessment?” Two further key considerations were considered: “To what extent are the schools developing and sustaining a culture of after school programming?” and “What does an after school programme at a no- or low-fee school ideally look like?”
Development Works Changemakers (DWC) was contracted to conduct this assessment in January 2019.
Project deliverables were:
- Assessment visits to 112 low or no-fee schools in eight districts around the Western Cape.
- The production of 112 school reports covering a large range of issues relating to each school’s after school offering.
- A comprehensive summary report outlining the methods used and the key trends from the data coming out of all 112 assessments.
- A PowerPoint presentation on the results
DWC assembled a team of experienced researchers who were specifically trained over a two-day period by the lead DWC researcher in all aspects of the fieldwork and data gathering protocols, tools and processes. This team of 12 individuals traversed the province, conducting site visits at each of the 112 schools.
All schools were informed of the research by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) ahead of the visit. But actual visits were unannounced so that the researcher could see the most natural scenario at a school, rather than a pre-arranged display of after school activities. Researchers spent up to five hours at each school, interviewing key individuals, and observing ASPs.
Detailed interviews were conducted with at least three key individuals at schools with insight into the ASP. These interviews were done through a set of carefully designed questionnaires which were developed using Survey Monkey and loaded onto a tablet device. Surveys were tailored for different interviewees such as Principals, ASP coordinators, teachers and NGO partners. Researchers conducted each interview with their tablet device and uploaded the completed surveys to the cloud as soon as it was over, using data loaded on each device. Quality checking could thus happen very quickly, with the lead researcher monitoring the uploaded surveys as they came in and providing feedback to the researcher.
In addition to the interviews, where possible, at least two after school activities were observed during visits. A detailed observation form was also loaded on the tablet device used by the researchers. These forms were completed during observations and also uploaded to the cloud for checking and analysis.
The project was conducted under considerable time pressure. School visits were conducted concurrently by the 12 researchers, and as this data came in, another team of four researchers analysed the data and wrote each school report up, following a detailed standard report structure. These reports were then edited and streamlined by the lead researcher and another member of the research team.
The lead researcher then analysed the overall data from the 112 Principal/coordinator surveys, as well as data relating to each school’s ASP contained in the school reports. This analysis informed the overall summary report.
This assessment was of high value to the After School Game Changer and its partners. It provided a comprehensive picture of what ASPs are happening at low and no-fee schools in the Western Cape and showed what an after school programme at a low or no-fee school can look like. The assessment provided 112 high quality and comprehensive reports on schools across the province, which show the range of activities and how schools have overcome difficulties to run ASPs.
The reports also allowed a broader analysis of what is happening in each district, based on the sample included in the study. It showed trends, such as districts with higher numbers of good ASPs, where schools focussed in their ASP offerings, as well as common challenges and gaps. The assessment showed that no-fee schools can offer ASPs, but it also showed the conditions under which these can thrive, and what is needed for success in this endeavour.
The assessment also is a resource for the ASPO as it seeks to involve schools and the WCED in a conversation about what can be done to improve after school programming at schools, and what support the WCED can provide in this regard.
We have been documenting our recent case studies on our blog. Browse our case studies to learn more about our involvement in the research, evaluation and development space.