DGMT Press Resources

The DG Murray Trust (DGMT) is a public innovator that aims to develop South Africa’s potential through strategic investment. Together with other funders, NGOs and government, DGMT studies and supports work being done in the critical areas of early childhood development (ECD), youth unemployment, school dropout and education quality, as well as innovation in the civil sector. As such, our team is well-placed to share critical insights or provide comment on a range of issues in these areas – or if we are unable to, connect the press to people in our network who can.


1. Early Learning and Childhood Development


DGMT invests most of its money in young children. This is because we believe ECD provides the greatest chance of changing the trajectory of our nation’s health, education and economic growth. 

We have devoted much time and resources to studying and supporting the development of systems and policies that will allow for the scale-up of early childhood development services in South Africa. Together with other funders, we have key partnerships with Ilifa Labantwana (an NGO working to provide the implementation evidence, build national capacity and galvanise political support for quality ECD services at scale), Innovation Edge (an NGO that supports innovation in the ECD sector), and SmartStart (an early learning social franchise). 

Furthermore, because reading is key to enabling learning, we also invest significantly in early literacy development and, since 2012, have worked in partnership with the Nal’ibali reading-for-enjoyment campaign to nurture a culture of reading in South Africa.

That said, we know that no form of education or early learning will be enough to help children thrive if their nutritional and neurological foundations are not well laid – particularly in the First 1 000 Days of life.

Nutritional stunting, typically defined as being short for one’s age, is associated with lifelong cognitive defects, educational and employment challenges, increased risk of chronic diseases in adulthood and ongoing cycles of intergenerational poverty. About 27% of South African children under five years are stunted. Together with other funders, we support the Grow Great campaign, which aims to drive a national commitment to a stunting-free generation by 2030.

The transition to parenthood is a vulnerable time for women. Between nine and 21% of new mothers will experience depression during pregnancy, or within a year after the birth of their baby. The First 1 000 Days describes the time from conception to a child’s second birthday when a baby’s brain develops faster than at any other time in a person’s life. What happens during this time plays a vital role in helping children grow up to be happy, healthy and well adjusted, and a mother’s mental health can negatively affect the development of her baby at this time. Embrace is a national movement that promotes a connected and thriving start to motherhood for every new mother in South Africa because, as the campaign states: “An empowered and embraced mother raises a thriving child.”

Who you can interview at DGMT about
early learning and childhood development:

Dr David Harrison – DGMT CEO

Dr Harrison is founder of the Health System’s Trust and a medical doctor with a Masters in Public Policy from the University of California at Berkeley. He has experience in planning for early childhood development service delivery, especially on the intersection of governmental, parental and civil society efforts to improve ECD outputs. He was one of the developers of the diagnostic review of ECD service delivery in South Africa in 2011/12 – a key process that was the first step towards the ECD policy gains that have been made in recent years.

Dr Colin Almeleh – Ilifa Labantwana Executive Director

Dr Almeleh has experience working with governments and development agencies. Ilifa Labantwana’s mandate is to reform the systems needed to enable universal access to childhood development services. Dr Almeleh’s expertise allows him to discuss the role government and development agencies have in working together to complement each other in solving issues around early childhood development.

Grace Matlhape – SmartStart CEO

Grace is the former CEO of loveLife and the current CEO of SmartStart. A social worker by training, her experience, cultivated through her many years in civil society, is focussed on driving social impact at scale.   

Sonja Giese – Innovation Edge Founding Director

Sonja has over 20 years’ experience in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of programmes in some of the poorest rural and urban communities in SA. She has engaged extensively with all levels of government and has been instrumental in national policy reform and systems enhancements that have effectively leveraged massive gains for children.

Dr Kopano Matlwa Mabaso – Grow Great Executive Director

Dr Matlwa Mabaso is a medical doctor and published author. She is a Rhodes Scholar and an alumnus of the University of Oxford, where she gained both her Masters and DPhil in Public Health. Her expertise on stunting and how it affects the socio-economic situation in South Africa makes her a key person to interview in this area.

Julie Mentor – Embrace Programme Lead

Julie is Embrace’s Programme Lead. After studying film and media, and English literature at university, she joined an ECD NPO as the communications officer. She has also acted as a temporary safe mother (Kangaroo Mom) for babies in crisis or awaiting adoption. Her move to Embrace was a natural one, rolling her experience as a Kangaroo Mom, actual mom to Liam and Eli and communications experience into a rounded package to assist mothers through the journey of motherhood.

Helpful information for background and referencing

Note: The press is welcome to republish any of our articles or resources provided reference to DGMT is given.


  • A plan to achieve universal coverage for Early Childhood Development services by 2030

    ‘A plan to achieve universal coverage for Early Childhood Development services by 2030’ – developed in conjunction with Ilifa Labantwana and Kago Ya Bana – describes strategies to achieve this universal coverage of ECD services in South Africa.

  • South African Early Childhood Review 2019

    South African Early Childhood Review 2019 is an annual publication that curates and analyses over 50 data indicators on ECD. The data indicators are spread across the Essential Package of services: nutrition, maternal and child health, support for primary caregivers, social services, and stimulation for early learning.

  • Human Factor 2

    The second issue of DGMT’s annual publication, the Human Factor, explores the role of parents as their children’s first teachers and champions of their education, even once they enter the formal education system.

  • Story-Powered Nation

    Story-Powered Nation offers a broad framework for a national reading strategy. The document examines the power of reading; paints a vision of a reading nation; and offers a road map of how we can get there: by nurturing and investing in story-powered homes, schools and communities across South Africa. It was developed by drawing on the work and experience of leading South African literacy organisations such as Wordworks, Nal’ibali, PRAESA and others.

  • Narrowing the literacy gap

    Progress has been made in terms of the implementation of literacy strategies at school level, but until language and literacy development are placed at the heart of ECD, later interventions to support reading and writing skills will meet with only limited success among children who miss out on crucial language development in their formative years. Narrowing the literacy gap examines language and literacy development at different stages from birth to six years, specifically looking at why language and literacy development is important at each stage and what helps to foster it.  

  • Facts about nutritional stunting in South Africa

    Referenced facts about nutritional stunting in South Africa – and what should be done to address it. Download the infographic here.

  • Reading for Pleasure

    Why would helping children to love books and reading make a significant difference in South Africa? Here are referenced facts to make the case.

  • Embrace

    Embrace is a national movement to help create connected, supported and celebrated motherhood journeys for all women in South Africa. In this learning brief key lessons that helped Embrace evolve from a programmatic, city-wide initiative into a national movement for motherhood are described.

Web Pages

What will bring the next real change in South Africa?

Although there are various ways to improve South Africa, evidence from around the world shows that one thing – more than anything else – can lead to greater equality, better education and health outcomes, a stronger economy and a better society with less crime and public violence. The answer is investing in the early development and wellbeing of children. What will bring the next real change in South Africa? is a seven-minute video that shows the potential of investing in our young children to bring about real change in South Africa.

The video forms part of an online toolkit with ideas, guidelines and tools that ordinary citizens and small groups of people can use to support the early development of South Africa’s children.

2. Youth unemployment and the quality of basic education


The power, and eventually the responsibility to drive our country forward, lies with young people. But, in our current economy – with the unemployment rate for young people the highest in the world at 56.4% – finding solutions for youth unemployment feels like an impossible task. We at DGMT believe, however, there are a number of medium-term measures that can alleviate the situation.

There are over 20 million young people, aged 15-34, in South Africa – that amounts to 36% of South Africa’s population! If we can capitalise on the youth bulge between 2005 and 2035, it would be an enormous boost for the country’s economic and social prosperity. But, the reality is that 30% of 15-24-year-olds and 46% of 25-34-year-olds (7.1 million people!) are not in any form of employment, education or training. Youth Capital is building a body of knowledge that supports a national focus on key priorities for young people, as well as a national network of young influencers who can collectively shape the sector around them.

The high cost of work-seeking and persistent information asymmetries prevent young people from navigating their way towards opportunities that are available; many young people also struggle to flag work-readiness competencies without formal qualifications or experience. JobStarter is an online platform aimed at improving young people’s ability to take their first steps towards decent work.

In South Africa, about 40% of learners drop out of school before they even write the matric exam. Most of them will remain stuck in poverty and unemployment for life. As such, the Zero Dropout Campaign aims to halve the rate of school dropout by 2030.


Of course, the employment trajectories of young people start with their basic education and despite significant investment, South Africa still has a bad track record on educating its citizens. 

Public schools in South Africa remain divided around the quality of education they offer. Education quality at 80% of schools is poor, while the quality at 20% of schools (all former white) is high. In this way, we continue to replicate the inequality in our society. The Public School Partnerships is an important, albeit controversial experiment, to offer children in the poorest and worst performing schools the same opportunity as any child in the best public schools by bringing new non-profit management and teaching expertise into the public system.

The quality of education is highly dependent on the quality of teaching. Teachers in South Africa suffer from an ailing reputation in a struggling system, but it is by no means easy to be a teacher in South African schools. And while research continues to point to the importance of parents’ involvement in their children’s educational journeys, South African parents face their own unique challenges that often make it very hard for them to do so. The Teacher Support Network & Empowering Parent Initiative hopes to find or develop the strategies that help both teachers and parents to feel empowered and supported.


Who you can interview at DGMT about addressing youth unemployment and improving the quality of basic education

Janet Jobson – DGMT Deputy CEO

As a Mandela Rhodes Scholar, an Oxford Alumni and Jeanne Sauvé Public Leadership Fellow, Janet’s focus is on the structural and social dynamics that shape people and programme outcomes. She did her BA History Honours at Rhodes University and her Masters at the University of Oxford with her thesis focusing on youth participation in global civil society and social justice movements.

Merle Mansfield – Zero School Dropout Programme Director

Merle Mansfield is the Programme Director for DGMT’s Zero Dropout Campaign and has a background in Social Development studies, with an Honours qualification in Social Science, Social Policy and Management from UCT. She has worked in the development sector for the past 10 years, mostly in the Philanthropy and Education space. She uses her lived experience as a learner from the Cape Flats to give her a unique insight into the dropout crisis – she was one of only a handful of learners in her year who graduated matric.

Khayakazi Namfu – Public School Partnerships National Manager

Khayakazi’s career in the public service has been dedicated to professionalising public sector property management in order to improve the country’s balance sheet and service delivery. Her current focus is improving the educational outcomes of underserved communities through the innovative approach to school management provided by the Public School Partnerships initiative.

Kristal Duncan-Williams – Youth Capital Project Lead

Kristal has an undergraduate degree in Molecular and Cell Biology and an MPH in Health Economics. She is passionate about unlocking the untapped potential of young South Africans and believes that quality education, healthcare and employment are the critical building blocks for a thriving society. She has experience in research-driven advocacy and is passionate about making data accessible and engaging for everyone.

Shakira Maharaj – DGMT Innovation Director

Shakira’s experience is rooted in social research, public policy and strategy, and public benefit initiatives. Before joining DGMT, Shakira worked in local Western Cape government as an Assistant Director: Policy and Strategy, researching, analysing and interpreting provincial policies and strategies with the aim of improving policy- and decision-making.

Helpful information for background and referencing

Note: The press is welcome to republish any of our articles or resources provided reference to DGMT is given.


  • Zero Dropout – What’s the Catch?

    Zero Dropout – What’s the Catch? Drawing together the latest local and international research, as well as on-the-ground experience from learners, educators and programmers, our publication, ‘School Dropout – What’s the Catch?’ offers deeper insight into the nature, and drivers, of school dropout in South Africa.

  • Pathways from School to Work map

    The Pathways from School to Work map is a visual presentation of the pathways through the educational system, from Grade 9 onwards, into higher education or the world of work. The post-school education landscape in South Africa is remarkably complex, and learners and their parents often struggle to understand and compare the different options available to them. This map offers a bird’s-eye view of all the available options while providing the most important information that should guide decisions about educational or career trajectories.

  • Human Factor Issue 1

    Human Factor Issue 1 – ‘Do teachers in South African make the grade?’ The education system is typically portrayed through highly technical terms, and in fragmented ways, so our aim with this publication was to stitch together the daily realities of those working and learning in it, each with their own story to tell. Our hope is to cultivate a space where we can look at our teachers and the education system with less judgment and more compassion, less blame and more broad-mindedness; to draw out insight and inspiration from a wide range of people – including some who never thought they had a contribution to make.

Web Pages

Create Change: Step Up for Young People

The ‘Create Change: Step Up for Young People’ resource website begins by moving past negative generalisations of young people, drawing us into their lives in an authentic and intimate way. The stories bring meaning to the many statistics around youth, illustrating the sense of the dynamism and tenaciousness young people are weaving into their lives, regardless of the hand they’ve been dealt. Next, structured around simple strategies ordinary South Africans – in their personal and professional capacity – can use to support young people to realise their potential, the site provides helpful guidelines and ideas such:

  • ‘Pathways from school to work’: An infographic offering a bird’s-eye view of all the available options to young people covering the complex post-school education landscape in South Africa while providing the most important information that should guide decisions about educational or career trajectories.
  • Advice from businesses that are taking the risk to employ young people and making it work as a profitable business strategy.
  • Advice from organisations offering volunteer opportunities to youth as an important stepping stone to formal employment.
  • A vast collection of research illustrates the effectiveness of mentoring in a variety of settings and especially the workplace. Based on this, the site provides a summary of the key success factors for mentoring, as well as a mentoring toolkit with talking and action points to help youth prepare for job-seeking, stand out in the workplace, budget and save, as well as develop resilience.

3. Boosting innovation in civil society and connecting different sectors towards a common goal


Civil society consists of thousands of non-government organisations (NGOs) providing support at a local level across the country – they are the social fabric of South Africa. Despite being the second biggest employer in South Africa, civil society organisations are not held in the same regard as the government or the corporate sector, however. They make an enormous contribution, and not just in terms of the economy. NGOs tend to fall into two camps: those that oppose the government and those that work for it. We believe there is a need for innovative NGOs to occupy the space in between.

Towards amplifying the innovation, effectiveness and impact of NGOs, The Fellowship for Organisational Innovation is a support package for NGOs created to support the development of their people through residential immersion, in-field application, organisation-based coaching and one-on-one mentoring. It also aims to strongly assert civil society’s position as an equal partner alongside business and government.

Funded by DGMT and the KfW, the German Development Bank, ACTIVATE! brings together young people from across South Africa to shake up their frames of reference, develop their leadership abilities and enhance their networking for the sake of social innovation. Already tackling or concerned with key challenges in their communities, the programme works to build on Activators’ efforts and passion to contribute to the greater good of the world around them.


Billions of Rands are invested in social development and tens of thousands of people in government and civil society pour their lives into trying to improve society. But often it feels like Sisyphean task – pushing boulders up a hill only to see them roll back down again and again. One of the biggest retardants of progress in South Africa is the widespread abuse of alcohol that fuels crime, unemployment and a decline in health. There are two ways we can start to address this problem: 1. through alcohol taxation and 2. the introduction of a minimum unit price on alcohol.

If business, government and civil society can start working together towards a common goal, it will not only improve the life chances of people in South Africa, it will eventually lead to improved economic growth. Everyone wins. For example, prepaid data is unaffordable to most South Africans. Yet, if they had access to the information and services offered on mobile platforms, it would improve their quality of life and grow our economy. We can easily make this happen – if we wanted to. The cost of mobile services provided by public benefit organisations (PBOs) can be zero-rated, with costs offset by the statutory obligations of mobile network operators (MNOs).   


Who you can interview at DGMT about boosting innovation in civil society and connecting unlikely partners

Carol-Ann Foulis – DGMT Innovation Director

Carol-Ann heads up the Innovative and Inclusive Society strategy at DGMT. In 2014, she co-designed and launched the early learning social franchise, SmartStart. Prior to her work at DGMT, she worked in the NGO sector for over a decade. She has a Masters in Development Studies from the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in the Hague, Netherlands.


For interviews on policy related to alcohol harms and binge drinking:

Dr Grieve Chelwa

Dr Grieve Chelwa is a Senior Lecturer in economics at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town. From 2016 to 2017, Dr Chelwa was an inaugural Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for African Studies at Harvard University. In 2017 he was a visiting Postdoctoral Fellow at the Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WISER) at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Prof. Corné van Walbeek

Prof. van Walbeek is currently a Professor at the School of Economics at the University of Cape Town. He joined UCT in 2000 as a Senior Researcher in the Applied Fiscal Research Centre, and began teaching in the School of Economics in 2001. Before joining UCT, Corné was a manager in a fruit exporting company for three years and a lecturer at Stellenbosch University for six years. His research interests are primarily in the economics of tobacco control, and in particular how changes in the excise tax on tobacco products can affect cigarette consumption.

Helpful information for background and referencing

Note: The press is welcome to republish any of our articles or resources provided reference to DGMT is given.


DGMT’s submission and presentation to the Data Services Market Inquiry public hearings (17-19 October 2018).

The purpose of the inquiry was to provide a better understanding of the market and value chain features that result in elevated data prices, and to make recommendations that would facilitate a reduction in data prices. Read DGMT’s submission to the Competition Commission here, and the presentation that informed and shaped the outcomes here. Read the final Competition report, including DGMT’s contributions here.

  • YouCount 2nd tier findings

    YouCount 2nd tier findings: A qualitative look at the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers Network. This report details the findings of a qualitative study aimed at understanding the socio-economic and political impact of the ACTIVATE! Network in South African communities. The study utilised social network theory to contextualise, frame and analyse the role members of the ACTIVATE! Network (Activators) are playing across South Africa. Using in-depth interviews with 111 Activators located in each of the country’s nine provinces, the study collected qualitative data that was thematically analysed and revealed a number of key impacts the A! Network is having on South Africa.  

  • Exploring how we can reduce binge drinking and alcohol harms in South Africa

    The University of Cape Town joined DGMT in exploring how we can reduce binge drinking and alcohol harms in South Africa. This learning brief explores the issue and documents key policy recommendations.  

  • Overview of the affect that alcohol abuse

    This infographic provides a simple yet powerful overview of the affect that alcohol abuse has on the progress of our country. Youth, in particular, are at risk of abusing alcohol – through peer pressure but also the examples set by adults. This infographic was included in our learning brief on Alcohol Harms reduction, available  here.

    Download the full infographic here.