Basic Education in South Africa
After Nelson Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, the RBF began focusing on improving basic education for children and adults in South Africa as a bottom-up approach to development that would enable the people who had been most disadvantaged by apartheid to participate in transforming and building a new society. From 1990 to 1994, the Fund supported projects testing innovative educational reforms, such as the Cape Education Trust’s work in second language and anti-bias curriculum development; the Western Cape Trust’s project to train teachers of five-year-old children; and Fort Hare University’s distance education project in multi-grade and large classroom aspects of teacher development. Key grantees in adult education included the South African Institute of Distance Education; ABC Ulwazi’s educational radio project; Project Literacy’s Leeuwkop Prison Project, developing an adult basic education program for youth; and the University of KwaZulu Natal New Readers’ Project to develop learning materials for newly literate adults. After South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994, the RBF added a capacity-building component to its program as many NGO leaders began leaving for government service, creating serious gaps in the nonprofit sector that affected progress in educational reform.