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Determinants of Grade 12 Pass Rates in the Post-Apartheid South African Schooling System


  • Haroon Bhorat
  • Morne Oosthuizen


This paper utilises an educational production function approach on post-apartheid data that include both schooling and community-level information, in order to empirically estimate the key determinants of Grade 12 pass rates in 2000. Quantile regression techniques are applied, allowing for more nuanced information. The key results are, firstly, that the pupil--teacher ratio is insignificant in explaining pass rates for schools below the 95th percentile of the school performance distribution. Secondly, the impact of resources on performance is not strong and, where there is a significant effect, it is highly dependent on the resource in question and the metric utilised for the dependent variable. Thirdly, knowledge infrastructure may be important to understand the absolute and relative performance of schools. Fourthly, proxy variables for teacher and parent characteristics are strongly significant, and the former should probably be a priority focus for any policy programme aimed at improving Grade 12 performance levels in South Africa. Copyright 2009 The author 2008. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Centre for the Study of African Economies. All rights reserved. For permissions, please email:, Oxford University Press.

Suggested Citation

  • Haroon Bhorat & Morne Oosthuizen, 2009. "Determinants of Grade 12 Pass Rates in the Post-Apartheid South African Schooling System," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 18(4), pages 634-666, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:jafrec:v:18:y:2009:i:4:p:634-666

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Emily Oster, 2012. "Routes Of Infection: Exports And Hiv Incidence In Sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(5), pages 1025-1058, October.
    2. Damien de Walque, 2007. "Sero-Discordant Couples in Five African Countries: Implications for Prevention Strategies," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 33(3), pages 501-523.
    3. de Walque, Damien, 2007. "How does the impact of an HIV/AIDS information campaign vary with educational attainment? Evidence from rural Uganda," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 84(2), pages 686-714, November.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1995:85:11:1521-1525_0 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Pascaline Dupas, 2011. "Do Teenagers Respond to HIV Risk Information? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 1-34, January.
    6. Damien de Walque, 2009. "Does Education Affect HIV Status? Evidence from five African Countries," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 23(2), pages 209-233, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. David Lam & Cally Ardington & Nicola Branson & Murray Leibbrandt, 2013. "Credit Constraints and the Racial Gap in Post-Secondary Education in South Africa," NBER Working Papers 19607, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. repec:eee:injoed:v:56:y:2017:i:c:p:1-10 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Lam, David & Ardington, Cally & Leibbrandt, Murray, 2011. "Schooling as a lottery: Racial differences in school advancement in urban South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(2), pages 121-136, July.
    4. Fabrice Murtin & Thomas Laurent & Geoff Barnard & Dean Janse van Rensburg & Vijay Reddy & George Frempong & Lolita Winnaar, 2015. "Policy Determinants of School Outcomes under Model Uncertainty: Evidence from South Africa," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 83(3), pages 317-334, September.
    5. Marisa Coetzee, 2014. "School quality and the performance of disadvantaged learners in South Africa," Working Papers 22/2014, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

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