Identifying social indicators for the BRICS using public data: an investigation of the school dropout phenomenon in Brazil, India and South Africa

Chetty, Krish (2017-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH SUMMARY : The Brazilian, Russian, Indian, Chinese and South African (BRICS) Heads of State in 2014, in Fortaleza Brazil called for the closer cooperation of their statistical agencies and experts to promote the identification of common data methodologies that can be employed to analyse social indicators which measure a common set of challenges in their countries. The study examines the possibility of using data produced locally within Brazil, India and South Africa specifically to assess the singular but complex phenomenon of learners dropping out of school. Although the countries share a common challenge, the reasons behind the challenge differ based on the countries’ varied backgrounds. In addition, each of the countries measure school dropout rates differently but in essence only considers the number of learners who dropout, whilst not describing the determinants of this dropout. This study employs Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach to identify these determinants by identifying the central freedom affecting the learner, viz., the learner’s real freedom to complete school and attain employment and an improved quality of life. This freedom is tested in terms of a Capability Set of functionings that learners aspire to attain or conduct, viz., being physically well, being financially secure, being mentally well, being taught in infrastructure of a suitable standard, being in a conducive home learning environment, travelling to school in a safe manner, feeling free to express themselves in school and lastly, effectively participating in school activities in a meaningful way. These broad functioning are further defined in terms of themes and sub-themes and thereafter datasets from the above mentioned 3 countries are identified in terms of questions that are appropriate to assess the performance of the country. However, the key additional step of this study is to qualify the selection of data variables per sub-theme in terms of the associated level of data quality. By applying data quality theory, a set of dimensions are identified, which are applicable to a data user working with a publicly released dataset. The selected datasets are checked in terms of relevance internationally and amongst Brazil, India and South Africa in terms of their data collection policy priorities. South Africa’s Statistical Assessment Framework was found highly useful, as the framework shared many of the identified data quality dimensions and assisted in developing the framework practically. In applying the newly constructed Public Data Quality Assessment Framework, the identified datasets were assessed in terms of the data quality dimensions and their level of data quality was rated. South Africa’s surveys produced by Statistics South Africa were rated strongest. Ultimately, relevant data can be sourced from the BRICS, however the variables identified are nuanced and pertain to the priorities of the countries. Greater effort is need to promote collaboration amongst the BRICS to produce comparable data, informed by common methodologies and data quality standards.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING : In 2014 het die Staatshoofde van Brasilie, Rusland, Indie en Suid-Afrika(BRICS), in Fortaleza, Brasilie, versoek dat hul statistiek-agentskappe en –kundiges nouer moet saamwerk ter bevordering van die identifisering van gemene data metodologie wat prakties aangewend kan word om sosiale aanwysers, wat 'n stel gemeenskaplike uitdagings meet, te analiseer. Die studie ondersoek die moontlikheid om data wat plaaslik in Brasilie, Indie en Suid-Afrika verwerf is, te gebruik om die spesifieke verskynsel van leerders wat skool te vroeg verlaat (vroeg uitval), te analiseer. Alhoewel bogenoemde 'n gemeenskaplike uitdaging is verskil die redes vir die verskynsel op grond van lande se uiteenlopende agtergronde. Daarbenewens meet elke land die skooluitvalsyfer anders en in wese word slegs die aantal leerders wat uitval in ag geneem, sonder om die redes daarvoor te beskryf. Hierdie studie gebruik Amartya Sen se “Capability Approach”, (Vermoensbenadering) om die redes te identifiseer. Sen se benadering fokus op die identifisering van die sentrale vryheid van die leerder, nl. die ware vryheid van die leerder om sy/haar skoolloopbaan te voltooi en om n indiensnemingsvlak te bereik om sodoende 'n verbeterde lewenskwaliteit te bekom. Hierdie vryheid word gemeet in terme van n’ vermoe-stel van funksionaliteit wat leerders wil bereik, nl. om fisiek gesond te wees, om finansieel veilig te wees, om geestelik gesond te wees, om onderrig te word in 'n infrastruktuur van 'n geskikte standaard, om 'n bevorderlike leeromgewing tuis te hê, om veilig by die skool te kom, om vry te voel om hom/haarself by die skool uit te druk en laastens om effektief en sinvol deel te neem aan skoolaktiwiteite. Hierdie funksionaliteit word verder tematies en subtematies omskryf. Daarna word stelle data van bogenoemde lande geidentifiseer deur middel van vrae wat geskik is om die lande se prestasie te evalueer. Die addisionele sleutelstap van hierdie studie is egter om die seleksie van dataveranderlikes per subtema te kwalifiseer met betrekking tot die verbandsvlak van kwaliteit data. Deur n datakwaliteitsteorie toe te pas, word 'n stel dimensies geidentifiseer, wat bruikbaar is vir 'n data gebruiker wat te doen het met publieke publikasies van data. Die geselekteerde stelle data word geverifieer in terme van die relevansie daarvan internasionaal en is ook geweeg teen Brasilie, Indie en Suid-Afrika se dataversamelings-beleidprioriteite Suid-Afrika se Statistieke Assesseringsraamwerk is baie nuttig, aangesien die raamwerk baie van die geidentifiseerde data se kwaliteitsdimensies kon deel en hulp verleen met betrekking tot die praktiese ontwikkeling van die gebruikte raamwerk. Die nuut-saamgestelde Openbare Datakwaliteitsraamwerk is gebruik om die geidentifiseerde stelle data te evalueer in terme van die datakwaliteitsdimensies en die gradering van die kwaliteitsvlak van die data. Suid-Afrika se opnames, gedoen deur Statistieke Suid-Afrika, is die hoogste gegradeer. Uiteindelik kan relevante inligting van BRICS verkry word. Die veranderlikes is egter genuanseerd en het betrekking op die land se prioriteite. Meer pogings is nodig om samewerking onder die BRICS lande aan te moedig, ter bevordering van die inwin van data deur gemene metodologie en datakwaliteitsstandaarde.

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