Equity & efficiency in South African primary schools : a preliminary analysis of SACMEQ III South Africa

Spaull, Nicholas (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2012-03)

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The many and varied links between student socioeconomic status and educational outcomes have been well documented in the South African economics of education literature. The strong legacy of apartheid and the consequent correlation between education and wealth have meant that, generally speaking, poorer learners perform worse academically. The links between affluence and educational quality in South Africa can partially explain this outcome since the poor receive a far inferior quality of education when compared to their wealthier counterparts. This disadvantages them in the labourmarket and entrenches their poverty. This thesis uses the recent Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ III) dataset for South Africa to answer three important questions: (1) Is South African primary education efficient? (2) Is South African primary education equitable? and (3) What are the main factors that have a significant effect on student mathematics and reading performance in Grade 6. The thesis shows that a high proportion of the country’s learners are functionally illiterate and functionally innumerate. The research confirms previous findings that socio-economic status, and particularly school socioeconomic status, is important when understanding student success or failure. Other factors which significantly affect student performance are homework frequency, grade repetition, and the availability of reading textbooks. In contrast, teacher-subject knowledge was found to have only a modest impact on Grade 6 performance. Policy interventions associated with the findings are also highlighted. The study concludes that South Africa is still a tale of two school sub-systems: one which is wealthy, functional and able to educate students, while the other is poor, dysfunctional, and unable to equip students with the necessary numeracy and literacy skills they should be acquiring in primary school. Finally, the thesis suggests that there are some options available to policy-makers which are expected to have a positive effect on learner performance.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die vele en diverse verbande tussen studente se sosio-ekonomiese status en onderwysuitkomste is goed gedokumenteer in die Suid-Afrikaanse literatuur oor die ekonomie van onderwys. Die sterk nalatenskap van apartheid en die gevolglike korrelasie tussen onderwys en rykdom beteken dat armer leerlinge in die algemeen akademies swakker vaar. Die verband tussen welvaart en onderwysgehalte in Suid-Afrika kan hierdie uitkoms gedeeltelik verklaar, omdat arm mense ʼn veel swakker gehalte van onderwys ontvang as rykes. Dit plaas hulle in ʼn swakker posisie in die arbeidsmark en bevestig daarmee hulle armoede. Die tesis gebruik die onlangse SACMEQ III datastel vir Suid-Afrika (SACMEQ is die akroniem vir die Southern and Eastern African Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality) om drie belangrike vrae te beantwoord: (1) Is Suid-Afrikaanse primêre skole doeltreffend? (2) Is Suid-Afrikaanse primêre onderwys regverdig verdeel? (3) Wat is die belangrikste faktore wat studente se wiskunde en leesvermoë in Graad 6 beduidend beïnvloed? Die tesis toon dat ʼn groot proporsie van die land se leerlinge funksioneel ongeletterd en ongesyferd is. Die navorsing bevestig vorige bevindinge dat sosio-ekonomiese status, en veral die sosioekonomiese status van die skoolgemeenskap, ʼn belangrike bepaler van studente se sukses is. Ander faktore wat studente se prestasie beduidend beïnvloed is hoe gereeld hulle huiswerk doen, of hulle die graad herhaal, en die beskikbaarheid van handboeke. In teenstelling daarmee is bevind dat onderwysers se vakkennis net ʼn beskeie impak op Graad 6 prestasie het. Daar is ook klem op beleidsingrypings wat uit die bevindinge spruit. Die studie kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat Suid- Afrikaanse onderwys steeds die storie van twee sub-stelsels is: een wat ryk is, goed funksioneer en in staat is om studente ʼn goeie opvoeding te bied, terwyl skole in die ander deel van die stelsel arm is, wanfunksioneel, en die vermoë ontbreek om studente toe te rus met die syfer- en leesvaardighede wat skole hulle behoort te bied. Ten slotte identifiseer die tesis opsies vir beleidmakers wat leerlinge se prestasie sou kon verbeter.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/20184
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