SP11: Mapping public funding for OER – Africa

Public funding for learning materials in South African basic education: Tracking budget allocation for OER

Project overview
Project outputs

General objective: This study set out to develop an understanding of the funding allocation of government money into educational resource acquisition, development, and dissemination in South African basic education (the equivalent of K-12 primary and secondary education system in the United States). As claims have been made about the potential cost reductions that come with using OER, this study aimed to investigate whether any public funding is being channelled into OER; and, if so, whether it is possible to calculate any potential cost savings that have been realised in the South African Basic Education system.

Specific objectives:

  • To review information sources on basic education provision and policy in South Africa in order to understand and establish a baseline for the allocation of funds used by government to develop and/or buy educational resources for basic education.
  • To ascertain whether any public funding has been channelled specifically into OER production and/or acquisition in South Africa.
  • To determine whether, from the established baseline, OER represent a cost reduction with regards to educational resource acquisition in basic education in South Africa.


Little to no research has been undertaken to date on the extent of public funding of Open Educational Resources (OER) within basic education in South Africa. This study aimed to develop an understanding of government funding allocated to educational resources in basic education in South Africa. As claims have been made about the potential cost savings associated with using OER, the main intention of the study was to establish a benchmark of public spending on educational resources in order to be able to assess possible cost savings of OER.

The first phase of the study was dedicated to a desk review and document analysis process in which official information sources on South African basic education were reviewed to develop a conceptual understanding of the South African government’s funding allocation model for educational resources. The second phase of the research comprised an interview process, in which requests were submitted to members of the South African Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Provincial Departments of Education (PDEs), as well an independent South African OER publisher (Siyavula). The outcome of this interview component was that one such interview was granted by the DBE and one by Siyavula. This resulted in the production of two short case studies of OER implementation in South Africa, the third phase of the study.

The amount spent and projected to be spent on Learning and Teaching Support Material (LTSM) by each PDE, as reported in the annual budget, indicates total expenditure on LTSM by PDEs will likely increase in the future. In terms of DBE budget and expenditure on LTSM, it is much less clear how much money was spent on LTSM. As such, there is not enough publically available information to act as a benchmark for potential cost savings. This study has highlighted cases of OER use in basic education through both government and OER publisher initiatives, and noted some early developments in terms of OER being recognised in policy. Information on allocation of public funds into educational resources is, however, not readily available beyond government budgets and expenditure reports. The question of how to source credible, authoritative data on resource allocation in the South African education system remains a challenge for all future research in this area.

Project outputs
Goodier, S. (2016). SP 11 references spreadsheet. Retrieved from: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sHFNzg6QlFSN0geTWjKkMIPSdqEiywybCsEoMjriX8g/edit#gid=812806596