Evidence of effectiveness
The general impact of the instrument is considered positive in the final report of the programme: the goal was to have 400 graduates, in total 469 completed their studies.
First indicator: the goal was to have 200 successful graduates, who previously had discontinued their studies, but only 53 managed to come through. There were many learners who discontinued their studies. On this side, the programme was unsuccessful.
Second indicator: the goal was to have 200 (25+) successful graduates, which was achieved. In total, 416 adult learners finished and received a new qualification. Again, there were many learners who discontinued their studies.
Third goal: the goal was to conduct a survey on the reasons for opting out of vocational education, which was achieved. The 2012 survey showed that the reasons for discontinuing are multifaceted, related to wrong choice of specialty, lack of study motivation, school conflicts with class mates and teachers, financial issues etc. Several meetings were held with education institutions to work out measures to reduce drop-out. This research and results has also pushed for another programme to improve study counselling and career guidance and to provide educational support services for all learners.
The general impact of the instrument on national and area level strategies and action plans is considered positive in the final report of the programme. In total 652 study places were created to upskill their competitiveness in the labour market and to support the policy goal of lifelong learning. The running of the programme enabled to turn attention on the vocational and professional education dropout phenomena and to find solutions to reduce it. Among the target groups, the relevance of a proper qualification and a formal certificate was advertised and disclosed. Another impact mentioned in the final report of the programme is the importance of adult education and learning, its characteristics (e.g. need for flexibility) and potential.
At first, the emphasis was on attracting learners who in the past had discontinued their studies, then during the programme, it became clear that it was difficult to find and bring back those people, thus more emphasis and more study places in the programme were given to adult (25+) learners. The adult oriented side of the programme was successful.
On the other hand, as the focus of the programme changed during the implementation phase and the instrument was modified several times, the planned and actual costs were different. The budget was underspent, mostly due to the modest use of study grants and other benefits, which were not that relevant with adult learners.
Engagement of stakeholders
As the instrument was a ministerial order, it is quite specific about the roles and tasks of the ministry (including specific departments) and the so called implementation unit SA Innove. At the start of the programme, the ministry and its various departments, in cooperation with education institutions, had to assemble a legitimate guidance note, which is a guideline for schools for admitting these learners (rules and procedures in filling study places). This enabled to engage all essential stakeholders from the start of the programme and keep them motivated and interested in the programme.