The when and how of leaving school: The policy implications of new evidence on secondary schooling in South Africa
AbstractSouth African and international household and education datasets are analysed to characterise patterns of dropping out, grade repetition, academic under-performance and under-preparedness for post-school life in South African secondary schools. A number of measurement error problems are moreover discussed and in some cases remedied. The proportion of South African youths entering upper secondary schooling is above the trend found in comparable middle income countries, the proportion entering the last grade (Grade 12) is about average, but the proportion successfully completing secondary schooling (40%) is below average. The data suggest improving quality should be a greater planning priority than increasing enrolments. A what-if subject choice analysis using examination data moreover suggests that successful completion could be greatly enhanced by guiding students to more appropriate subject choices, possibly through a more standardised set of assessments in Grade 9. Any attempt to reduce dropping out must pay close attention to financial constraints experienced by students with respect to relatively low-cost inputs such as books. Teenage pregnancies must be reduced as these explain half of female dropping out. The quality problem in schools underlined by the fact that income returns and test score gains associated with each additional year of secondary schooling are well below those associated with a year of post-school education.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 09/2011.
Date of creation: 2011
Date of revision:
Human capital; Unemployment; Earnings function; South Africa; Secondary schools; Examinations; Education policy;
Find related papers by JEL classification:
- E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution
- I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
- J31 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Wages, Compensation, and Labor Costs - - - Wage Level and Structure; Wage Differentials
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-AFR-2011-03-26 (Africa)
- NEP-ALL-2011-03-26 (All new papers)
- NEP-EDU-2011-03-26 (Education)
- NEP-LAB-2011-03-26 (Labour Economics)
- NEP-URE-2011-03-26 (Urban & Real Estate Economics)
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Servaas van der Berg, 2007. "Apartheid's Enduring Legacy: Inequalities in Education-super- 1," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 16(5), pages 849-880, November.
- Martin Gustafsson & Stephen Taylor, 2013. "Treating schools to a new administration. The impact of South Africa’s 2005 provincial boundary changes on school performance," Working Papers 28/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
- Nicola Branson & Clare Hofmeyr & David Lam, 2013. "Progress through school and the determinants of school dropout in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 100, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
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