Year: 2008
Working paper number: 233
Author: Schollar, Eric
Unit: SSU

The Learning for Living Project was implemented over five years in 957 primary schools in all nine provinces of South Africa. The intervention embodied a book-based approach to the learning of English as a second language and was based upon a modified book flood model utilizing the supply of materials supported by in-service training as well as extensive classroom monitoring. A total of 13 164 teachers were supplied with a total of 4 002 103 individual books of different types – a mean of 304 per teacher. In addition, each teacher received a mean of 9.6 INSET courses and 6.9 monitoring visits. The project cost R153 million for a total of 875 000 learners yielding a per capita cost of R175 per learner over the whole five year project, including project staff salaries and administration. The project was externally evaluated through the use of a quasi experimental design that longitudinally tracked true cohorts of randomly selected learners in project and control groups drawn from a sample of 90 schools. The resulting data has a precision of just over 1% at a confidence level of 95% - mean scores of the project and control groups were virtually equivalent at baseline (-0.5% difference in relation to the project mean). All of the components of the sample measured significant impacts in the project group over the controls in literacy – Cohort One +6.9%, Cohort Two +3.4%, Grade Five +7.6% and Grade Seven +7.7%. There is a 100% certainty that these impacts were achieved as a result of the book- based approach to the learning of English as a second language applied by the Learning for Living Project. That similar impacts in mathematics were not obtained suggests that poor inputs and outcomes in mathematics exist independently of the language in which it is learned.

Publication file: WP233.pdf