The RISE Podcast: Nangamso Mtsatse on Helping Kids to Read for Meaning and Calculate with Confidence in South Africa

Nangamso Mtsatse talks about building local teams; creating a culture of learning; and working within the constraints and opportunities of the system.


Image of Nangamso Mtsatse

Nangamso Mtsatse

Funda Wande

Image of Salimah Samji

Salimah Samji

Harvard Kennedy School of Government

In this episode produced jointly between RISE and Building State Capability (BSC) at Harvard University, BSC Director Salimah Samji speaks to Nangamso Mtsatse, CEO of Funda Wande, an NGO that works to catalyse improvements in foundational literacy and numeracy for children in South Africa. They talk about building local teams; creating a culture of measurement, reflection and learning; being intentional; and working within the constraints and opportunities of the system you are in for change.

Guest biographies

Nangamso Mtsatse is CEO of Funda Wande (a not-for-profit organization that aims to equip teachers to teach reading-for-meaning and calculating-with-confidence in South Africa). Nangamso is also completing her PhD in Education Policy at Stellenbosch University and is an affiliated researcher at the Research on Socioeconomic Policy (RESEP) group. She has published her research in a number of accredited journals. In January 2019 she was also selected by the International Literacy Association (ILA) as one of the Top 30 Under 30 researchers around the world.

Salimah Samji is the Director of Building State Capability (BSC). She has more than 15 years of experience working in international development on the delivery of public services, transparency and accountability, strategic planning, monitoring, evaluation and learning. She joined the Center for International Development at Harvard University in 2012 to help create the BSC programme. Today, she is responsible for providing vision, strategic leadership, oversight and managing projects and research initiatives. Salimah also leads BSC’s work on digital learning.


RISE is funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office; Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The Programme is implemented through a partnership between Oxford Policy Management and the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford. The Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford supports the production of the RISE Podcast.

Producers: Joseph Bullough and Katie Cooper

Audio Editing: James Morris

RISE blog posts and podcasts reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation or our funders.