Education Innovation #2: SAILI Scholarship Programme


Programme description

South African Innovative Learning Intervention (SAILI) identifies highperforming, low-income students and high-performing, low-cost schools with strong Maths and Science programmes. It then uses scholarships to support these academically talented students in attending these low-cost, high-quality schools. The aim is to produce graduates who continue into Maths and Science fields. Since the programme began in 1996, over 500 graduates have continued on to university studies in Science, Maths and Engineering.

SAILI is committed to using existing state capacity to deliver quality education to students with great potential. The schools benefit by receiving talented students who help to grow their reputation for excellence. The students also benefit. After observing that some students in other scholarship programmes struggle with a social and cultural mismatch when placed in a school in a new areas or among peers from a different social sphere than their own, SAILI decided on a brand-new approach: they match students to schools with an academically and culturally similar peer group. This model helps to strengthen each student’s sense of identity and academic potential.

SAILI also identifies geographically accessible schools, so the student can still have family and community support. Financial assistance is also on offer for school fees, textbooks, stationery, uniforms, field trips and job shadowing.

CEI approaches in action

Primary approach: Financing, Scholarships and financial aid

Additional approaches: Student support

Programme growth to date

Since its establishment in 1996…

  • SAILI has grown in diversity and geographic reach
  • The number of Afrikaans-speaking students has increased
  • More attention has been given to poverty among participating students
  • Focus has shifted from more expensive government schools to highervalue, lower-cost government schools

Some reported SAILI results

Graduation or promotion rates (2011):

  • 100% matric pass rate for SAILI scholarship recipients
  • Average of 76% achieved for the national matriculation Maths exam, compared to the national average of 46.3%
  • Average of 66% achieved for the Physics exam, compared to the national average of 50.8%

Cost-effectiveness and value for money:

  • In January 2013 the cost per student was R10 000 per year
  • If the programme expands to new geographies, such as Mitchell’s Plain, the cost will drop below R5 000 per student per year

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This article is part of a series. Click here for  ← Innovation #1 and → Innovation #3  or the introduction to the series

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