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Evidence-Informed Practice in South African Schools: An Examination of Enabling and Constraining Factors

Robyn Whittaker (Kaleidoscope Lights, South Africa)
Kathija Yassim (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)
Latoya Njokwe (Univeristy of Johannesburg, South Africa)

The Emerald Handbook of Evidence-Informed Practice in Education

ISBN: 978-1-80043-142-3, eISBN: 978-1-80043-141-6

Publication date: 31 January 2022


South Africa is a developing country with an education system that remains in crisis, despite three decades of democracy. The vestiges of South Africa's oppressive past continues to plague a system where repeated efforts at top-down transformation and curriculum renewal have failed to create the change required (Roodt, 2018). Extensive country-wide research attests to persistent inequalities linked to poverty, unemployment, and poor educational outcomes, effectively trapping disadvantaged communities in downward spirals (World Bank, 2018). As in most other countries, evidence-informed practice (EIP) has been widely discussed and advocated for in South Africa, with the matric (school leavers') results resurging the conversation annually. Unfortunately, as is the case in many developing countries, it is well documented that the actual implementation of EIP is not as widespread as desired.

This chapter reviews and analyzes the use of EIP in South Africa through an exploration of the various spaces where EIP is reported to occur within the broader education landscape. Examples of teacher and school level EIP innovations, led by a wide variety of actors within the system, are evident – this despite the pervasive lack of resources, support, and effective leadership within the formal education system. Through reflecting on these ‘pockets of hope,’ which were found to exist not only within, but also outside and alongside the system, we hope to gather insights and initiate debate on how the uptake of EIP might be better informed and facilitated within the broader South African public education system.



Whittaker, R., Yassim, K. and Njokwe, L. (2022), "Evidence-Informed Practice in South African Schools: An Examination of Enabling and Constraining Factors", Brown, C. and Malin, J.R. (Ed.) The Emerald Handbook of Evidence-Informed Practice in Education, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 225-255.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022 Robyn Whittaker, Kathija Yassim and Latoya Njokwe. Published under exclusive licence by Emerald Publishing Limited