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This article is taken from the November 2001 Phatlalatsa newsletter


Review of the DoE/CHET’s Effective Governance Project

Matthew recently completed a review of the Effective Governance Project established by the Centre for Higher Education (CHET), in consultation with the National Department of Education (DoE). He describes the project.

Members of the steering committee, staff at CHET and DoE officials played a valuable role in conceptualising the approach used in this study, designing the qualitative and quantitative instruments used and facilitating access to the institutions that the evaluation team selected to participate in this study. However, it was the evaluation team that not only conducted the study, but also chose the respondents who willingly either completed the questionnaire or made themselves available for in-depth-interviews.

The objectives of the midterm review were to assess:

  • The organisation, planning and delivery of workshops, training materials and other interventions by the project to achieve its stated objectives.
  • Project participants’ understanding of co-operative governance.
  • The levels of awareness amongst project participants in terms of their roles and responsibilities on respective governance structures.
  • The effect the project has had on relationships between different governance structures at the same institution.

A telephonic questionnaire was administered to 50 randomly selected members of governance structures at 5 different institutions of higher education in South Africa. The institutions that were selected were drawn from a stratified sample to reflect the diversity in the system. In other words, we selected an appropriate mix that took geographical location, historical disadvantage, and type of institution into consideration. We also accounted for the governance stability of the institution and whether or not the institution had participated in the project. All 5 of the selected institutions had participated in the project:

  • Border Technikon
  • Technikon Witwatersrand
  • University of Fort Hare
  • University of Port Elizabeth
  • University of Zululand

In addition, in-depth-interviews were conducted with the following:

  • 3 officials of the DoE
  • 3 members of CHET
  • 2 consultants
  • 3 steering committee members
  • 4 individuals based at institutions

The proposal clearly outlined what activities this project would implement and the indicators that we used to measure implementation. The activities and associated targets can be tabulated as follows:


Target for end of 2002

Advisory committee

Establish steering committee

Develop guidebooks on Effective Governance

Guidebook for Councils

Guidebook for Institutional Forums

Capacity building workshop packages developed in the following 5 areas (a – e)

a) New legislative framework

b) New policy framework

c) Roles and responsibilities defined

d) Efficient functioning

e) Effective functioning

Identify & train facilitators

15 facilitators trained

National workshop for chairs of councils, IFs, registrars and co-ordinators of IFs

At least one such workshop

Institutional workshops for non-targeted institutions

Minimum of 30 workshops

Intensive capacity building for councils and forums at targeted institutions

Minimum of 8 institutions

Figure 1: Activities listed in the project proposal

Key findings included:

  • Mid way through the lifespan of the project the project had spent less than 50% of its total budget whilst it had delivered significantly more than 50% of its targeted activities.
  • By the end of this year it will have produced 7 guidebooks on effective governance and developed all the necessary workshop packages.
  • The need for extensive but time-consuming research to draw up these guidebooks and packages. Research typically involved sending preliminary questionnaires to institutions, campus visits to institutions to discuss in-depth pertinent research questions, and then discussing preliminary findings in forums/seminars to garner responses and reactions to the research.
  • The important impact a project of this nature has in defining roles and responsibilities for people working in their respective governance structures which in turn has a profound effect on stability within the sector.
  • The need for projects of this nature to focus on their original plans and to stick to their core purpose rather than deal with the plethora of problems that beset the higher education sector at present.
  • The value of a systematic approach to institutional interventions. Such an intervention would include i.e. pre-intervention questionnaire/ interviews, adjustment of intervention accordingly, implementation of intervention, post-intervention assessment, appropriate follow-up.
  • For the project to become sustainable and to ensure that the materials developed get maximum exposure, training has to become institutionalised. In other words, workshops need to be developed to train institutional based trainers so that they can provide on site training/ induction for new members of the respective governance structures.

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