Challenging inequalities through policy relevant academic research.


July 2020

Dear Friends,

This past month, Wave 1 of the NIDS-CRAM data was released amidst great fanfare. A number of Saldrupians were actively involved in the project, including Prof. Vimal Ranchhod and Assoc. Prof. Reza Daniels as co-Principal Investigators. This was part of a much larger collaboration called the CRAM study, which is headed up by Dr Nic Spaull from Stellenbosch University, and includes several researchers from multiple universities across the country. SALDRU was commissioned to implement the NIDS-CRAM survey.

It is now common knowledge that the pandemic and ensuing lockdown has created severe hardships for many South Africans, but to date we have had no reliable data with which to measure the magnitude of these effects. NIDS-CRAM fills this void - quite uniquely so - for the time being. Collecting data under these trying circumstances, and with such a short turnaround time, has been a Herculean task; and we are extremely proud of everyone involved for playing their part in generating this invaluable public good.

As part of the data release, the CRAM study also commissioned some research to analyse the data. The results from this research are simply terrifying. All of the authors note extreme levels of job losses. In addition, the poor and most vulnerable were by far the worst affected by the lockdown and related economic downturn. This has significant implications for both poverty and inequality, in a country that already had amongst the highest levels of inequality and unemployment in the world prior to the lockdown. As more waves of NIDS-CRAM become available, we look forward to further results that might help policy makers to steer the society and economy through these extremely difficult times.

The rest of SALDRU has also been very busy during this time. Several of our projects have achieved significant milestones or received due recognition for their exceptional contributions. The Basic Package of Support (BPS) for South Africa’s youth, a SALDRU-led initiative, has received a formal endorsement from the National Planning Commission. ACEIR, together with the other UCT ARUA Centre of Excellence (ACDI-CD), has been awarded a substantial grant from the UK Research and Innovation organization. J-PAL Africa’s research initiative - Digital Identification and Finance Initiative in Africa - has funded 2 research projects to understand how digital cash transfers can help during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

On the people front, we list a position for a Junior Research Fellow that we are currently advertising for. We also sadly say goodbye to Majara Lebenya and Emily Cupito. Emily joined SALDRU as a Policy Manager at J-PAL Africa in 2013, while Majara joined SALDRU in January 2017 as a survey assistant on NIDS Wave 5. We thank them for all of their contributions over the years, and wish them everything of the best with their future endeavours.

Best wishes,

Murray Leibbrandt
Director, SALDRU
Vimal Ranchhod
Deputy Director, SALDRU

Release of NIDS-CRAM Wave 1 data

Image: Screenshot of some of the panelists of the webinar launch of the NIDS-CRAM Wave 1 research results and data. Photo: Haajirah Esau.

On the 15th of July, the CRAM study released the data for Wave 1 of the National Income Dynamics Study - Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM). NIDS-CRAM is envisaged to be a five-wave longitudinal survey of South African adults. It is designed to inform stakeholders and social partners about the impact of the lockdowns associated with National Government’s declaration of a State of National Disaster due to COVID-19. SALDRU was commissioned to implement the survey. Read more.

National Planning Commission endorsement for SALDRU-led youth support initiative

Image: John-Mark Smith on Pexels.

The Basic Package of Support (BPS) for South Africa’s youth – a youth development initiative to support young people who are not in employment, education or training – has received a formal endorsement from the National Planning Commission (NPC). Pointing out the alignment of the BPS with the National Development Plan, the endorsement letter pledges NPC support and collaboration with the project. This expressed support is the latest among several key institutions that have established links with the project in support of the BPS approach. Read more.

eNCA panel discussion on COVID-19 Gender Inequality in the Labour Market

Image: Screenshot of Jacqueline Mosomi during the eNCA panel discussion which is available to view on eNCA’s YouTube Channel.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the high inequalities in our society and especially the challenges that women face in the labour market. Last week Jacqueline Mosomi, a Siyaphambili postdoctoral researcher, was part of an eNCA panel discussion on issues of gender inequality in the labour market, gender-based violence and the COVID-19 pandemic with Daniela Casale and Kokesto Moeti. Read more.

Award to ACEIR and ACDI-CD

Image: Darwin Laganzon on Pixabay.

ACEIR has won an award from the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) together with the other UCT ARUA Centre of Excellence (ACDI-CD). The research is directed at ensuring that policy responses to climate change are configured in ways that take account of the poverty and inequality circumstances in each of Ghana, Kenya and South Africa. Through detailed research on livelihood dynamics prevailing across the income and wealth distributions in each country context, the analysis in the project will produce clear lessons for ensuring that the poor and vulnerable do not bear the burden of climate change commitments negotiated nationally or internationally. The analysis will also produce clear lessons as to which climate action policy approaches and policies will be most empowering for each of society’s most vulnerable groups. For more information, read this article on the ACEIR website.

Responding to the COVID-19 crisis

Image: Gerd Altmann on Pixabay.

As COVID-19 spreads in developing countries, an important question is how to improve the resilience of poor households to the pandemic’s economic and psychological ramifications, and facilitate their adherence to calls for social distancing. To answer this question, DigiFI (Digital Identification and Finance Initiative in Africa) - a J-PAL Africa research initiative, has funded 2 research projects to understand how digital cash transfers can help during a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The first of these projects, by Tavneet Suri, Abhijeet Banerjee, Michael Faye, Alan Krueger and Paul Niehaus; explores the impact of a digital universal basic income in Kenya. The second, by Chris Udry, Robert Darko Osei, Dean Karlan, and Matt Lowe; explores the impact of digital cash transfers in Ghana. Read more.


Farewell to Majara Lebenya

Sadly, Majara Lebenya left SALDRU at the end of June. Majara joined SALDRU in January 2017 as a survey assistant on NIDS Wave 5. He specialised in contacting respondents in Sesotho and Tswana (sometimes helping out in English and Xhosa as well). Majara then continued working in a similar capacity on the Land Restitution Evaluation Study (LRES), where he also contacted Ndebele respondents. Majara has not left UCT however, as he has taken up a position as an administration officer in Student Housing at UCT. He will be missed, but we wish Majara all the best!

Farewell to Emily Cupito

Emily Cupito joined SALDRU as a Policy Manager at J-PAL Africa in 2013, worked as Associate Director of Policy for J-PAL Africa from 2015-2018, and is currently Project Director for J-PAL Africa. In August, Emily will join the St. Louis University Policy Research in Missouri Education (PRiME) Center as its Managing Director and will pursue a PhD in Education Policy and Equity. We congratulate Emily on this next step and wish her well! Read more.


Information Flows in the South African Post-school Education and Training sector: a focus on university and government stakeholders

The Siyaphambili project has released a new SALDRU working paper which provides an overview of the state of data collection, analysis, reporting, and dissemination in public universities and government agencies. The South African Post-school Education and Training (PSET) system is made up of a diverse range of institutions and institutional types. How information is collected and shared across these institutions for policy planning purposes was previously not well understood. The empirical findings from this study show that institutions have varying degrees of capacity to gather information and conduct analytical research.

Preliminary results were presented to the Southern African Association for Institutional Research (SAAIR) at their annual planning workshop in January 2020. Members of the Siyaphambili project will continue to engage with the key planning stakeholders in the PSET system on how to improve the flow of information in the system and collectively use evidence for policy planning.  Access here.

Citation: Branson, N., Culligan, S. Favish, J. (2020). Information Flows in the South African Post-school Education and Training sector: a focus on university and government stakeholders.  Cape Town: SALDRU, UCT. (SALDRU Working Paper No. 263).

For more SALDRU working papers, journal article contributions and policy briefs, please visit OpenSALDRU.

Webinar: Accelerating learning when schools resume

Image: Alesandra Koch on Pixabay.

Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) Africa, a joint venture by Pratham and J-PAL, hosted a webinar on Accelerating Learning When Schools Resume on 29 July. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the sudden closure of schools across the world. As schools slowly begin to reopen, it is important to re-engage children at school differently to the normal – in an environment where children are given time to catch up and learning can continue. TaRL is an evidence-based intervention that is proven to quickly equip children in grades 3-5 with basic reading and arithmetic skills. In this webinar, the TaRL Africa team shared more information about the approach. This was followed by a panel discussion with representatives from countries currently implementing TaRL, and representatives from organisations supporting the approach.

SALDRU seeks a Junior Research Fellow

Image: Firas Samir on Pixabay.

SALDRU is inviting applications from suitably qualified and experienced persons for a Junior Research Fellow to work together with SALDRU researchers across a range of projects focusing on the post-school sector. The successful  candidate  will  be  involved  in  original  empirical  research,  publishing,  collating  and  facilitating  access  to administrative data, report writing, capacity building and applying for funding grants. Applications close on 11 August. Apply.


SALDRU Seminars

Please note: In order to decrease risk and spread of the COVID-19, as well as aligning with the university's decision on minimising gatherings, all SALDRU seminars are cancelled until further notice.

For information about past and future seminars, click here. To subscribe to our seminar mailing list, click here.
Media coverage of NIDS-CRAM: Financial Mail op-eds

As mentioned earlier in this newsletter, SALDRU has been tasked with implementation of data collection and data quality for NIDS-CRAM; the first wave of which was publically released on 15 July. Media coverage on this multi-university collaborative project has been significant. This month we share the Financial Mail op-eds authored by the broader CRAM study researchers (some of whom are Saldrupians) which were published after the webinar launch of Wave 1 of NIDS-CRAM. These op-eds share results from their analysis of the NIDS-CRAM Wave 1 data.
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