SP11: Mapping public funding for OER – Africa

Public funding for basic education in South Africa: are open educational resources being funded?

Project overview
Project outputs

Aim: This study aims to develop an understanding of the funding allocation of government money into educational resource acquisition, development and dissemination in basic education in South Africa (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 aims to investigate whether any public funding is being channelled specifically into OER; and, if so, whether it is possible to calculate any potential cost savings that have been realised thus far.

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 done to date on the extent of public funding of Open Educational Resources (OER) in South Africa within basic education. This study aimed to develop an understanding of the allocation of funds from government money into educational resources in basic education in South Africa. As claims have been made about the potential cost reductions that come with using OER, the main intention of the study is to establish a benchmark of public spending on educational resources in order to be able to assess possible cost-savings.

The first phase of the project 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 funding allocations the South African government uses for educational resources. The second phase of the research was comprised of an interview process, in which requests were submitted to various members of the South African Department of Basic Education (DBE) and Provincial Departments of Education (PDEs). One such interview request was granted in the period of the project. Siyavula, an independent South African OER producer who has produced curriculum-aligned textbooks which have been distributed to schools, also served as a case 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.  In order to make claims about OERs and their potential as cost savers, a more in-depth breakdown of the current budget allocations and their uses, combined with further research, would be required.

This study is related to a similar project undertaken in Latin America (Karisma Foundation, 2014; Toledo et al, 2014).

Project Leader: Sarah Goodier

Recipient Institution: University of Cape Town, South Africa

Estimated Duration: 1 year


Karisma Foundation. 2014. Public Expenditure on Education in Latin America. Can It Serve the Purposes of the Paris Open Educational Resources Declaration? Available at: http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/FIELD/Montevideo/pdf/CDCI1-Karisma-EN.pdf. Accessed: 7 January 2015.

Toledo, A., Botero, C. and Guzmán, L. 2014. Public Expenditure in Education in Latin America. Recommendations to Serve the Purposes of the Paris Open Educational Resources Declaration. Open Praxis, 6(2): 103–113. Available at: https://oerknowledgecloud.org/sites/oerknowledgecloud.org/files/119-547-2-PB.pdf. Accessed: 2 January 2015.

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