South Africa

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Cut out map with South Africa labeled

There has been recent momentum and political will in South Africa to establish early childhood data and measurement systems. Together for Early Childhood Evidence has supported the Department of Basic Education (DBE), USAID, and others in communicating the importance of sound data systems to a broader group of stakeholders across South Africa.

In 2019, the South African country team completed the T4ECE Diagnostic Toolkit, which helped outline key data and measurement priorities. Defining priority areas has been especially important as the DBE recently absorbed national early childhood development responsibilities from the Department of Social Development.

In 2021, Together for Early Childhood Evidence supported a broader national effort to track South African children’s learning outcomes. Project funds supported Innovation Edge and the DBE launch of the Thrive by Five Index better to understand early childhood outcomes and quality in South Africa. Thrive by Five was co-sponsored by First National Bank (FNB), USAID, and Together for Early Childhood Evidence. Before the Index, limited systematic information was available about the diverse early learning programs in the country or the outcomes for children who attend them. There were no national data or a system to monitor and report child outcomes trends over time. The Index fills an essential gap in South Africa, providing decision-makers with information on whether children attending South African Early Learning Programs are developmentally on track for their age. Read more about the Thrive for Five Index. Simultaneously,  other data management tools, information and reporting systems, and frameworks have been developed to enable routine reporting on ECD in the country.

Building on this progress, in 2024, the South African T4ECE research team, led by Ilifa Labantwana, will identify a key set of indicators to be included in a new ECD M&E Framework for the National ECD Policy. Within this framework, various government departments will report collectively on the progress of ECD service delivery and, ultimately, improved child outcomes across all the domains of the nurturing care framework. The development of this new ECD M&E framework is a key step towards bringing all existing data sources and systems in a meaningful way that directly ties into the government’s population-based planning process. This growing suite and shared info system of ECD data and information products places South Africa on excellent footing toward building a robust ECD information ecosystem. For more information, please read Building consensus on key early childhood indicators in South Africa.

To learn more, please read about Together for Early Childhood Evidence in South Africa (PDF)

Image of a group of young children in South Africa sitting around a teacher reading them a book.

Additional Information

The South African country team was established in 2019, and is co-chaired by USAID South Africa and the Department of Basic Education.

Key Indicators from South Africa

Poverty headcount ratio at $2.15 a day (2017 PPP) (% of population)   21%
GDP per capita (current US$) $7,055
School enrollment, preprimary (% gross) 18%
Prevalence of stunting, height for age (% of children under 5) 21%
Mortality rate, under-5 (per 1,000 live births) 33

Data from the World Bank 

Image of children in South Africa coloring at a table in a classroom.

Country Team Members

 Name Title Organization
 Sonja Giese Executive Director DataDrive 2030
 Junita Henry Project Manager & Analyst DataDrive 2030 
 Janeli Kotze Deputy Director: Research Coordination, Monitoring and Evaluation Department of Basic Education

 Kulula Manona

Chief Director, Foundations for Learning, Delivery, and Support Department of Basic Education 
 Simone Geyer Deputy Director-General: Delivery and Support Department of Basic Education 
 Vuyelwa Ntuli Education Specialist  Department of Basic Education 
 Morgan Mthembu Project Management Specialist USAID South Africa 
 Felicia R. Wilson Young Education Director USAID South Africa 
 Wendy Rich-Orloff Education Officer USAID South Africa 
 Fauve Johnson    Education Officer USAID South Africa


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This website is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the Office of Education, Bureau for Africa, U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) under the terms of contract No. 7200AA19C00080, subcontract CATALYZE-Edu-CR-2023-0352. The contents of this website are developed by the ECD Measure group hosted at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.