German Institute for Development Evaluation
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22.06.2016 - Presentation by Volker Schoer: "Reading Catch Up Programme (RCUP)- Findings and limitations of an Instructional Change Intervention RCT in South African Primary Schools"

We kindly invite you to our Brown Bag Lunch series with a presentation by Volker Schoer, director of the African Micro-Economic Research Unit (AMERU) housed in the School of Economics and Business Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

When: 22/06/2015, 12.30 pm – 2.00 pm

Where: DEval, Deutsches Evaluierungsinstitut der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit, Fritz-Schäffer-Straße 26, 53113 Bonn

Please register by June 20, via email:

Please feel free to take your lunch along, we look forward to seeing you at DEval!

Further information on the presentation:

The majority of South African children do not speak English as their first language yet are taught in English from Grade 4 onwards. This represents one of the various educational disadvantages that are contributing to the low levels of learning observed amongst the majority of poor children in South Africa. Finding ways to reduce the learning deficits amongst these children is therefore an important policy priority. This paper reports on a randomised controlled trial of a remedial programme designed to boost the English reading and literacy skills of grade 4 students, for whom English is a First Additional Language. The study randomly assigned 100 initially low-performing public schools in the Pinetown district of KwaZulu-Natal to treatment and control groups. The intervention lasted for 11 weeks, was administered within normal school time and consisted of three components: the provision of scripted lesson plans, additional reading resources and on-site instructional coaching for teachers. The intervention had no statistically significant impact on the overall reading achievement of learners. However, treatment schools improved more than control schools in the spelling and grammar subcomponents of the test. The programme impact was larger for learners who initially had a basic minimum of English skills and for those whose teachers participated actively in the programme. The paper describes some of the challenges involved in implementing a randomised controlled trial in the context of the South African school system.

Volker Schroer is the director of the African Micro-Economic Research Unit (AMERU) housed in the School of Economics and Business Sciences at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He is a development economists with a focus on micro-econometrics and has consulted on trade and industrial policy, regulatory economics, labour markets and education with the World Bank’s Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) group, IMF, IDRC, as well as various South African and Southern African government departments.  Over the last six years, his work has increasingly focused on impact evaluations testing active labour market policies and educational interventions using RCTs and quasi-experimental designs. He is currently involved in two RCTs, testing an educational intervention in 150 South African primary schools, and the impact of connectivity of the minibus taxi industry on commuter safety. Volker obtained his Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Cape Town.

Volker Schoer during his presentation
Volker Schoer answering questions on his presentation

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