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26 Jan 2019

31 January – 1 February 2019, Magaliesburg, South Africa: Philanthropy in Education in South Africa: A space for learning and collaboration

Read the report published after the conference

As part of the Philanthropy in Education (PiE) series, the Zenex Foundation, NORRAG and the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), organised a roundtable discussion bringing together philanthropies, implementing partners, researchers and government representative to discuss the experience and approaches used by philanthropic organisations to support improving education quality in South Africa. The roundtable discussion took place on 31 January – 1 February 2019 in Magaliesburg, South Africa.


Philanthropy is a complex term within the South African context. The history of the country has had a significant effect of shaping philanthropy from charitable giving (welfare philanthropy) to strategic philanthropy by communities and families to highly specialised Foundations. South Africans have a long history of charitable giving in communities. Family, extended family and neighbours are all supported in times of need. This philanthropy ranges from financial assistance, in-kind donations and personal time. However, this symposium will focus on more formalized philanthropy and opportunities for sustainable impact in the education space.

A brief review of the formalized philanthropy in South Africa indicates that there is a huge contribution being made to supporting the education sector. Sadly, there are still enormous challenges within the education sector, highlighting the urgency for philanthropies to engage with each other and with the government in order to create a coordinated and sustainable outcome.

This event is part of NORRAG symposium series on Philanthropy in Education (PiE), with the aim to facilitate greater understanding and collaboration between philanthropic organisations, national policymakers, representatives of international organisations and academics working in the field of education.


The primary objective of the event was to engage participants in an open discussion on how South African philanthropies are collaborating and engaging with the public sector to support the improvement of quality of education. The roundtable further delved into how data, evidence, and research is conducted and utilized by the philanthropies in their education programming and explore the need for further research.

More specifically, the discussion focused on the following:

  • Sharing experience on the various models and approaches and innovations to collaboration between private philanthropy and the public sector.
  • Examining the challenges that the philanthropic sector faces in collaboration and collection/utilisation of research in education.
  • Examining the unique space philanthropies occupy that create opportunities and innovation for further research and learning around improving the quality of education in South Africa.
  • Sharing experience on existing approaches, methods and systems within philanthropic organisations for data collection and use, monitoring and evaluation, and research within programmatic areas.
  • Identifying existing gaps in data and research on philanthropic engagement.
  • Exploring potential avenues to collaborate (with other philanthropies along with implementing partners, government and academics) and further enhance learning from and within the philanthropic sector in education.

More information, please contact NORRAG at norrag[at]

Programme (directionsmap)

Dates: 31 January – 1 February 2019

Venue: Magaliesburg, South Africa

Resources (NORRAG Resource Library)

working paper – Public-Private Partnerships in Education: A brief overview of the literature, By Sharlene Swartz, Jaqueline Harvey, Unathi Beku and Catherine Nomone


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