Challenging inequalities through policy relevant academic research.


January 2020
Dear friends,

After a quiet few weeks in early January, everyone is back and things are humming along in the SALDRU corridor as usual. Our January newsletter leads with a summary of the activities undertaken by SALDRU, together with multiple partners, in drafting a proposal for a Basic Package of Support for youth who are not in employment, education or training. This is a substantial research project, that looked at various interventions across many different spheres, and will go a long way towards using evidence-based policy making to alleviate the youth unemployment crisis in South Africa.

Part of our core mission is to provide training for young scholars and policy makers. Capacity building is an ongoing process that we have actively engaged in for a long time, and we highlight a relatively recent Post Graduate Diploma (PGDip) that is jointly offered by SALDRU, DataFirst and the School of Economics. The PGDip, which focusses on economic development and the analysis of survey data, was launched in 2016 and has graduated about 50 people to date, most of whom are government employees. This sharing of knowledge and skills is an important process for the further development of a society, and we feel privileged to be able to play our part in this.

Individual Saldrupians continue to represent us admirably in various ways. Andrew Kerr and Bongai Munguni have been awarded scholarships and are currently based at the University of Oxford and the University of Bristol respectively. Judy Favish and Samantha Culligan represented our Siyaphambili project at the Southern African Association for Institutional Research annual planning workshop; and Brendan Maughan-Brown and his co-authors have published SALDRU’s first peer-reviewed article of 2020 in the prestigious AIDS journal.

We look forward to another busy and productive twelve months in SALDRU.

With warm wishes to all our friends and partners for the coming year,
Murray Leibbrandt
Director, SALDRU
Vimal Ranchhod
Deputy Director, SALDRU

Basic Package of Support report: Programme intervention and policy recommendations

Image: Workandapix on Pixabay.

For much of 2019, the Basic Package of Support (BPS) research consortium, led by SALDRU, worked to find solutions to better support young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) in South Africa. The result of this collaboration is a firm proposal for the design of a programmatic intervention and a suggested policy approach that can provide more comprehensive support to these young people. This proposed BPS for youth aligns with the Presidential Jobs Summit Agreement and seeks to be complementary to the Presidency’s commitment to develop a national pathway management network for millions of young jobseekers. It further relates to the Presidency’s drive for a district-level coordination model that allows for a more efficient use of resources and service delivery. In this article, we reflect on the process and its outcomes to date, and link to all the resources available. Read more.

SALDRU Training with DataFirst and the School of Economics

The 2018 Post Graduate Diploma in Survey Data Analysis for Development cohort, pictured with Andrew Kerr. Photo: Martin Wittenberg.

SALDRU’s research gets a lot of attention, but there is also a substantial training component of SALDRU’s work. The School of Economics, DataFirst and SALDRU have jointly run a Post Graduate Diploma (PGDip) in Survey Data Analysis for Development since 2016, which has produced roughly 50 graduates. The Sustainable Development Goals require an understanding of economic development, but also skills in using survey data to track progress and provide analysis. This intersection between learning to use and understand survey data and connect it to broader development discussions is where the PGDip is located, meaning that the program teaches the core strengths of SALDRU and DataFirst. Read more.

SALDRU scholarship recipient, Bongai Munguni, selected for Researchers without Borders PhD programme

Bongai Munguni, a SALDRU PhD scholarship awardee has been selected for the Researchers without Borders PhD programme. This programme is an arrangement that enables students to be jointly enrolled at the University of Cape Town and University of Bristol in England simultaneously. Read more about Bongai’s PhD and her inspirational, challenging journey to be where she is now.


Fellowship at the Centre for the Study of African Economies at the University of Oxford

Andrew Kerr has been awarded a fellowship at the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) at the University of Oxford, where he was a PhD student. He follows in the footsteps of SALDRUpians and former CSAE fellowship awardees Muna Shifa and Elizabeth Nanziri. Funding from GEMCLIME, an EU-funded project with links to the University of Cape Town through Professor Edwin Muchapondwa, has enabled Andrew to extend his stay to four months. He will be away from February until May 2020.


Recently formed age-disparate partnerships are associated with elevated HIV incidence among young women in South Africa

This study by Brendan Maughan-Brown and colleagues – published in AIDS – aimed to increase understanding of the role of sex with older men in high HIV-infection rates among young women in South Africa. Cross-sectional and cohort studies have drawn different conclusions on whether age-disparate partnerships (i.e., male partner ≥5 years older) increase HIV-acquisition risk for young women. In particular, three longitudinal studies in South Africa have shown no association between age-disparate partnerships and HIV-acquisition. The hypothesis in this study was that the eligibility criterion for cohort studies of HIV incidence – being HIV negative – could result in the exclusion of women who seroconverted during high-risk age-disparate partnerships from the study, and thus result in relatively fewer HIV-negative women remaining at risk of HIV infection within these partnerships. The study used prospective cohort data among 15–24-year-old HIV-negative women in heterosexual partnerships in KwaZulu-Natal to assess heterogeneity in HIV acquisition by duration of partnership at cohort enrolment. Results showed that women in recently formed age-disparate partnerships – and thus not yet infected or excluded from the cohort – were three times more likely to become HIV-infected compared to women in similar aged partnerships. Results provide a plausible explanation for null findings in cohort studies; and indicate that a positive association between age-disparate partnerships and HIV-acquisition risk is evident early in young women’s relationships. Access here.

Citation: Maughan-Brown B, Venkataramani A,  Kharsany ABM, Beckett S, Govender K, Lewis L, Cawood C, Khanyile D, George G. Recently formed age-disparate partnerships are associated with elevated HIV incidence among young women in South Africa. AIDS. 2020, 30:149-154

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


Southern African Association for Institutional Research Workshop

Attendees of the SAAIR workshop. Photo: Samantha Culligan.

On 16 January, Judy Favish and Samantha Culligan of the Siyaphambili project in SALDRU, joined the Southern African Association for Institutional Research (SAAIR) at their annual planning workshop held at the Erinvale Estate Hotel in Somerset West. Judy presented the initial findings of a Siyaphambili study, Information Flows in the South African Higher Education Sector, which seeks to provide an overview of the state of data collection, analysis, reporting and dissemination in public universities, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges and government agencies. Going forward, the project is looking to hold focus group discussions to gather more qualitative information.


SALDRU Seminars

SALDRU Seminar 17 January “Scheduling Conflict: Effects of Overlap in the School and Farming Calendars on Education”, by James Allen of University of Michigan.

For information about past and future seminars, click here. To subscribe to our seminar mailing list, click here.
Business Day Live, 22 January 2020
Putting golf club needs before social housing is one way the rich fail the poor
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