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Measuring performance in education with KPIs

Education KPIs

The Department of Basic Education is a division of the South African government that administrates primary and secondary education in South Africa. It was established in 2009, when the former Department of Education was divided into the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Higher Education and Training.

This segmentation of the Department of Education signalled the fact that South African authorities emphasize the further improvement of the national schooling system. As the Department of Basic Education’s Annual Performance Plan 2013-2014 puts it “Just two decades ago, our national schooling system was characterised by gross inequity, inefficiencies, variable quality, low levels of access and minimal information related to learner performance and the quality of education outcomes”.

Although South Africa has managed to correct a large number of past deficiencies within their educational system, problems still exist in this sector of the African state. In order to continue this improvement trend, the Department of Basic Education has developed the Strategic Plan 2011 to 2014, in the hope of ensuring that the country keeps making progress towards quality educational systems. In addition to this strategic plan, the Department of Education has developed the Annual Performance Plan 2013-2014 which communicates the department’s strategic objectives measured by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Education Strategic Objectives

The plan is structured based on 5 Programmes:

  • Administration;
  • Curriculum Policy, Support and Monitoring; Teachers, Education Human Resources and Institutional Development;
  • Planning, Information and Assessment;
  • Educational Enrichment Services.

Each Programme contains a set of specific strategic objectives, whose achievement is measured by Key Performance Indicators.

Analysing Programme 5, Educational Enrichment Services, we can observe the dedication with which the Department of Basic Education has undertaken the development of a solid and documented framework for monitoring educational performance. The main purpose of the initiative is “to develop policies and programmes to improve the quality of learning in schools”. The programme has two established strategic objectives:

  • Strengthen school management and promote functional schools;
  • Strengthen partnerships with all stakeholders, resulting in education becoming a societal priority.
Education KPIs

Five KPIs are used to measure the achievement of the two main objectives, as presented in the above table. As a best practice recommendation, the KPI names can be standardized in order to facilitate understanding and ensure clear differentiation between objectives and KPIs:

  • # Learners benefitting from the Integrated School Health Programme;
  • # Learners in Quintiles 1–3 Primary, Secondary and identified Special Schools that are provided with nutritious meals;
  • # Learners participating in DBE organised activities on citizenship, rights and responsibilities and constitutional values;
  • % Information on choral and sport participation captured in the DBE;
  • # Public ordinary schools participating in spelling bee to support reading initiatives.

In addition to the KPIs, the department has also established targets for each of the next three years. Furthermore, based on the reporting frequency of the indicators – annually, quarterly, and bi-annually- targets have been set.

Education KPI targets

This process has been repeated for all the five main programs and strategic objectives identified by the Department of Basic Education. Their approach represents a step forward in South Africa’s endeavor to offer suitable and quality educational services to its population. A continuous effort on this path is bound to improve the educational system, if the government sustains its current efforts.


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