BRIDGE was started in 2009 and is a registered non-profit organisation. BRIDGE came about because of the realisation that a critical part of the problem in education in South Africa is that stakeholders do not sufficiently share, adopt and implement what works. Pockets of successful practice, operating in silos, have consequently failed to improve the education system in an impactful, lasting and sustained manner.
A significant event in the early development of BRIDGE’s identity and mission was the hosting of a day of exchange and reflections about education in South Africa. ‘Walking Together in Education’ (November 2009) brought together almost 150 people from NGOs, government and business with an interest in South African education. The aim was to provide a ‘… a cross-sectoral platform for discussion about the Dinokeng Scenarios, their implications for education and the ways in which educational role-players might work together differently for the future.’ The Dinokeng scenarios (http://www.dinokengscenarios.co.za/) were developed by a group of 35 ‘citizen-leaders’, influential and respected South Africans who came together to consider possible futures for the country. Link to Walking Together in Education (2009) for a report on the themes and outcomes of these discussions, which remain pertinent to this day.
BRIDGE has subsequently built on these ideas, focusing on the concept of collaboration as the foundation for its intervention. This approach ensures the maximising of collective effort and the decreasing of duplication and competition in key focus areas in education.
The mission of BRIDGE is to link people and share working practice and knowledge in key leverage areas in the education system as fostering collaboration and co-operation helps to spread successful practice, which in turn promotes systemic improvements in education.
BRIDGE believes that complex problems require the views of diverse stakeholders in order to solve them, and that all stakeholders in education have a role to play in systemic improvement in education in South Africa. BRIDGE stakeholders include representatives from civil society, government, funders, educational practitioners, learners, teachers, principals, parents, research organisations, universities and unions.
In support of its mission, BRIDGE has developed a membership of over 3500 stakeholders from over 900 organisations across different education sectors. These members collaborate in 9 national communities of practice, in a number of provincial communities of practice, and in over ten local communities of practice for principals. Our communities of practice work with specific objectives across four key focus areas: School Leadership, Teacher Development, Learner Support and Early Childhood Development. BRIDGE hosts over 70 face-to-face Community of Practice meetings and dialogues a year, has an extensive facilitator network and has developed and refined a tried and tested methodology.
BRIDGE’s facilitation in the Communities of Practice makes certain not only that resources and knowledge are shared (both internally and beyond) but also that innovative ideas are generated through joint problem-solving activity. Communities of Practice are not just gatherings of people with similar interests; they are activist by nature and are made up of practitioners who commit to engaging and working together to increase the impact of their work and to create systemic change.
BRIDGE’S approach to knowledge management ensures that outputs from work with communities of practice and other partners is widely shared. This approach is summed up in BRIDGE’s Framework for Knowledge Management.
Click here for the BRIDGE brochure for a concise overview of BRIDGE’s work.
Our Theory of Change and the BRIDGE outcomes
BRIDGE’s methodology is based on our Theory of Change, which in turn is linked to a set of generic outcomes for our work. The following diagram illustrates these relationships.
The BRIDGE outcomes can be seen at work in some of the results of BRIDGE’s intervention:
- Fewer resources are wasted and there is a reduction in duplication;
- There is a quicker uptake of effective solutions and fewer isolated duplicated efforts;
- Effective practice is spread more widely in the system;
- More innovations are created to address education problems; and
- There is a stronger linkage between policy and practice whereby government adopts programmes or adjusts existing programmes and new policies are created/ or old policies are amended for the better.