Primary school mathematics education and youth employment programme JumpStart has been awarded the MTN Award for Social Change. The award, valued at R300,000, attracted 143 entries across the three categories and was made at the Trialogue Business in Society conference on Wednesday, 14 October.
Callen Hodgskiss, general manager of JumpStart, and Angie Maloka of the MTN Foundation
The goal of the award is to encourage and reward good monitoring and evaluation (M&E) practice in the non-profit sector. A total of R1m goes to four non-profit organisations, and JumpStart entered in the category for medium-sized NPOs with a total annual income greater than R5m but less than R15m.
Designed with high level of consultation
Angie Maloka of the MTN Foundation congratulated Callen Hodgskiss, general manager of JumpStart. She said, “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.”
Hodgskiss expressed his delight: “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, which is currently benefiting 22,000 foundation phase learners, is funded by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.
“We’re enormously grateful to the Dell Foundation,” continued Hodgskiss, “which focuses on data-driven programmes. Their support took us to the next level in terms of how we design our M&E.”
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Positive impact on learners
Dineo Motaung, deputy curriculum education specialist at Ekurhuleni South District, added her congratulations, “This project is having an enormously positive impact on our 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, as well as how each grade is progressing in each school. With this information, we monitor the overall progress of the project. We’ve added a digital tool that automatically syncs to the platform, which enables continuous monitoring.
Hodgskiss continued, “This award has given us the confidence that we need to scale up 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. If we ensure that learners have a solid mathematical foundation by the end of Grade 3, they will more likely succeed through their entire schooling and be ready 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, and using it 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.”
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