The Southern African NGO Network (SANGONeT) has once again produced an annual Development Calendar in the form of a year planner.

Sponsored by Turning Point Consultants, the 2015 Development Calendar covers a comprehensive list of international, African and South African dates (e.g. World Day of War Orphans, 6 January) and events of significance to people and organisations involved in development and civil society issues in Southern Africa.

Copies of the calendar are available for collection from the SANGONeT office in Johannesburg, free of charge.

SANGONeT's physical address is as follows:

6th Floor
35 Pritchard Street

Copies of the calendar are also available from the TPC office in Durban:

103 Mahomedeya Centre
263 Sparks Road

Tel: 031 208 2458

To view the 2015 Development Calendar, refer to

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While much has been written and said about the National Senior Certificate (NSC) results released almost two weeks ago, a few issues are worth commenting on: firstly, the decline in the pass rate should not necessarily be viewed as a negative; secondly, the dropout rate is alarmingly high; and thirdly, the cheating pandemic threatens the integrity of the examinations as a whole.

The 2.4 percentage-point drop in the pass rate should be viewed as a glass half full rather than a glass half empty. Minister Angie Motshekga and her Department of Basic Education endured much criticism over the last few years due to the rise in the matric pass rate. Much of the criticism echoed the refrain that the matric exam standards had been dropped to improve statistics. With a decrease in the pass rate this year, some critics have argued that the Department did not do enough to help matrics, for example with extra lessons and ‘boot camps’. However, other commentators, including the chairperson of the quality assurance body Umalusi, Professor John Volmink, believe that the decrease in the pass rate can be ascribed to the rigour of the national Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS).

According to Minister Motshekga, CAPS policy changes infused ‘quality into the system’ and raised ‘standards and cognitive demands reflected in the curriculum’.1 The pass rates for mathematics and physical science dropped from 59.1 percent and 67.4 percent in 2013 to 53.5 percent and 61.5 percent respectively in 2014, due to more rigorous ‘cognitive demands’. For example, those who sat for the mathematics exams only wrote two papers - with elements of the previously optional third paper, such as Euclidean Geometry and Probability - now made compulsory. Subjects such as Physical Science and Business Studies are also said to have demanded much more of learners than previously. Seen in this light, the decline in matric results can be viewed as reflecting an increase in exam standards, something which should serve us well in the long run. Of course, the glass could have been fuller, if, as some of the teacher unions and others are arguing, teachers had been better prepared to implement the CAPS.

  • Minister Angie Motshekga (2014): National Senior Certificate Examination 2014: School Performance Report.
  • Nic Spaull (2014): Education woes go far deeper than matric rate. Sunday Times, 11 January 2015.

The most significant number of the 2014 NSC exams is not the 2.4 percentage point drop in the pass rate, but rather the 719 211 learners who did not make it to matric.

For every 100 pupils that started their school journey in 2003, only 48 wrote matric, and of these, only 36 passed, with only 14 doing well enough to go to university2.

This attrition rate is alarming, and instead of focusing too narrowly on the matric pass rate, much more attention is needed to address the problems associated with ensuring that those who enter the schooling system stay in the system. It is particularly interesting to note that the dropout rate escalates dramatically in Grades 10 and 11. What are the reasons for this? Are under-performing learners being ‘eased out’ to ensure better matric results? Do they leave to pursue further studies at FET colleges? Or do they simply end up joining the unemployable masses?

That these learners enter FET colleges seems highly unlikely, as the total number of young people who gained a technical or vocational qualification in 2012 was a mere 6 018. These questions, and finding answers to them, should occupy the minds of policy makers, educationists and teacher unions alike.

Finally, optimism around the matric results must also be tempered by the incidents of ‘group’ cheating. More than 5 000 candidates were implicated, but more distressing is the fact that the candidates were aided by invigilators or exam officials. Not only did the cheating compromise the integrity of the exams, but it also speaks to the lengths candidates will go to obtain a matric certificate that may be their only ticket out of desperate socio-economic circumstances. The complicity of teachers, which can in no way be condoned, is also symptomatic of the pressure put on schools to improve their results. A matric pass has taken on such a significance that the pressures on the candidates to do well are enormous. It is encouraging to hear, then, that the Minister has promised that all those implicated in the cheating - candidates, teachers, and exam officials - will face the necessary sanctions.

What we can all take away from the NSC 2014 exams is that interventions to address the many educational challenges will have to be implemented from the foundation phase – doing so in matric is too late. In the meantime, we may have to accept slightly lower pass rates over the next few years as the price of improving the standards of the curriculum and the examination.

  • Kenny Pasensie is a researcher at the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

Various articles and research studies indicate that nonprofits are stuck in a vicious cycle that threatens their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed. The content of many of these articles indicate quite rightly that there are many things that nonprofits are doing wrong or are not doing which is negatively impacting on their ability to raise funds and resources. We work with about 14 organisations on fundraising (on set monthly fee not commission based) as part-time fundraisers or to assist in-house fundraisers. The first thing we do is set up and develop all the requirements, systems and accountability systems that are required and ensure that nonprofits can deliver. Having done this one implements the fundraising/resource mobilisation process – the first step being research and matching nonprofit organisations with potential funders. And this is where the frustration starts.

The reality is that donors receive numerous requests and cannot possibly satisfy all requests or even a small part of the requests that they receive. But it is very frustrating when you land on their CSI/CSR webpage and see their focus and what they have funded, see a match, but do not see any way to contact them. It is further frustrating to see a match, see contact details, but see the dreaded words – no unsolicited applications. You receive an explanation of how they go about selecting their partners and how their staff monitors the NGO field-and you know the small locally based NGO, that does brilliant services, has no or little possibility coming to their attention.

International funders seem to have the belief that everything is A-OK in South Africa and many do not fund services in our country – looking at the larger number of rich and well to do people in our country, and seemingly forgetting about the increased number of very poor and vulnerable. Also let us not forget the dreaded non-fundable administration or running costs (including salaries). In the past year (2014) we have worked with over a 100 organisations in training, organisational development, monitoring and evaluation and fundraising – there is not one where the skill and expertise of their facilitators and staff IS the project, and a quite often the project expense – but tough luck. Risk management is a given in today’s nonprofit world – but there should be a balance between project funding risks and the risk of the actual project implementation and management. We of course have NLTDF who fund this – when they get so far as to call for proposals or actually pay out funds, but let us not go there.

It should be easier to change the world for the better.

- Fatima Abrahams is the Managing Partner at The Organisational Puzzle.

The New Year is upon us and many of us have made Personal New Year resolutions.(As it is already some 12 days into the new year many resolutions have already gone down the drain or we are seriously questioning our thinking when we made it)

But have any of us in the social service field made New Year resolutions for the NGO, NPO, and CBO, FBO or other civil organisations for which we work.

We often complain about the lack of funding and resources and spend less time on focusing on the financial governance of the little that we have. Financial management is that function in an organisation that is concerned with the raising and allocation of resources within that organisation in order to attain its goals.

With regards to financial management for the New Year let us:

  • Endeavour the acquire the resources that our organisations need;
  • Allocate the limited resources that we have on a needs based priority system;
  • Use our limited resource efficiently;
  • Ensure that acquisition, allocation and efficiency happens.

Be in a position to be able to prove that we are trying to acquire funds, allocate our limited resources based on a priorities, and that we use our limited resources efficiently.

- Fatima Abrahams is the Managing Partner at The Organisational Puzzle.


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