Theme 1: Poverty and inequality
Although South Africa has recorded a marginal decline in poverty levels over the last decade, it is affected by the globally rising levels of inequality. And so, to have better impact in terms of reducing both poverty and inequality, the country needs to improve collaboration of current policy interventions. This is the focus of this theme area, which, through training programmes and funded research, builds the capacity of policy-makers to better understand and engage with the dynamics of poverty and the multi-dimensions of deprivation, and therefore engage more effectively in meaningful policy-making and implementation.
Theme 2: Employment, unemployment and livelihoods
In this theme, both unemployment and employment are examined. It is recognised that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are pivotal in driving inclusive economic growth through job creation, and the government is committed to growing this sector. However, a lack of data has made it difficult to estimate the SME sector’s contribution to GDP and employment, which directly impacts on government’s ability to identify and implement workable policies. This theme area therefore aims to contribute to this information gap by funding research and study tours. In addition, it focuses on the crucial topic of youth employment and unemployment.
Theme 3: Early childhood development and child violence
The benefits of quality early childhood development (ECD) and care and their long-term impact on future education and earnings are well documented, but poor living environments, poor nutrition, poor quality education, and widespread violence continue to limit the prospects of children in South Africa. This theme explores how these issues create long-lasting developmental setbacks which drive the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Through its various platforms for dialogue, the Programme hopes to promote a more comprehensive view of ECD, including improved availability and quality of child care and support for parents and caregivers.
Theme 4: Use of research in the South African government
While phase I of the PSPPD contributed to the institutionalisation of evaluation within government, phase II aims to examine the research landscape in the social and economic sectors and contribute to a better understanding of both the opportunities and challenges in implementing policy. Through case studies and learning opportunities, the focus of this theme is therefore to find out more about the existing role of research in government: to explore the institutional location of the research function; how, when and why research is used by the public sector; and if it is valued in the policy-making process.
Theme 5: Improving policy implementation through evidence use
EBPM, which aims to increase the use of research and other evidence as sources of evidence for policy-making, is advocated internationally for its potential to contribute to effective policy. However, evidence must be accessible if it is to be used, and the process of transferring it into workable policy solutions has long been a challenge for both researchers and policy-makers. Many factors hinder the process, including the absence of robust information on what does and does not work. Developing knowledge management systems and providing learning opportunities is consequently key to institutionalising EBPM and is the focus of this theme.