Design evaluation of the Draft Policy on Community Colleges (Renay Pillay)

The White Paper for Post-School Education and Training (DHET, 2013) states that “the education and training system must find ways to cater to the needs of millions of adults and youth who are unemployed, poorly educated and not studying”. The White Paper calls for the establishment of a new type of institution that will cater mainly for youth and adults who did not complete their schooling or who never attended school and thus do not qualify to study at Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Colleges and Universities. The White Paper indicates that these institutions will be known as Community Colleges.

Community Colleges have been proposed as a third tier of institutional type alongside Universities and TVET Colleges. They are envisaged to cater for second-chance learning opportunities for out-of-school youth and adults, by building on the current offerings of the existing Public Adult Learning Centres (PALCs), which offer general education programmes. Community Colleges will be a diverse set of institutions, offering programmes that are appropriate to their particular communities.

The Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) has recently published a call for public comments on the draft National Policy on Community Colleges (Government Gazette No. 38158,      7 November 2014). The draft policy provides a framework for the process of establishing Community Colleges, its governance and management, employment of staff, funding framework, programmes and qualification offerings, quality assurance, examinations and assessment as well as monitoring and evaluation.

The DHET has also commissioned a design evaluation of the Draft Policy on Community Colleges. It is significant that this is the first known design evaluation of a public policy instrument that is taking place in South Africa. This design evaluation is expected to make an important contribution to illustrating evidence-based policy making at the point of policy development.

The evaluation seeks to, inter alia, assess the robustness of the theory of change that is implicit or explicit in the draft policy, validate the inherent logic and internal coherence of the policy document, clarify the results or outcomes against the education sector policy as well as assess the implementability of the draft policy.

The evaluation report will be finalised following stakeholder engagement, and will be available on the DHET website in May 2015.

Renay Pillay is Acting Deputy Director in the Research Coordination Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate, DHET.

For further information contact Renay Pillay at