IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/sza/wpaper/wpapers165.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Poverty & Privilege: Primary School Inequality in South Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Nicholas Spaull

    (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

Abstract

Although racial segregation has been abolished for 18 years now, schools which served predominantly White students under apartheid remain functional, while those which served Black students remain dysfunctional and unable to impart the necessary numeracy and literacy skills students should be acquiring by this level. The present study provides an overview of this dualistic nature of the primary education system in South Africa, with special attention paid to the bimodality of student performance. It argues that there are in fact two different education systems in South Africa and thus two different data-generating processes. These two sub-systems can be seen when splitting student performance by former-department, language, or socioeconomic status. The implications of such a dualistic schooling system are also elucidated, with special emphasis on government reporting and econometric modeling. The recently released SACMEQ III dataset is used for the econometric modeling. The study finds that when modeling student performance separately for the wealthiest 25% of schools on the one hand, and the poorest 75% of schools on the other, there are stark differences in the factors influencing student performance which are large and statistically significant. Only 5 of the 27 factors are shared between the two models for mathematics, and 11 of the 29 factors for reading. This suggests a bifurcated system where the process which converts inputs into outputs is fundamentally different for each sub-system. Ultimately the paper has two logical conclusions: 1) Observing averages in South African education is uniquely misleading and overestimates the educational achievement of the majority of students, and 2) Modeling a single schooling system when there are in fact two school systems can lead to spurious results and misleading policy conclusions.

Suggested Citation

  • Nicholas Spaull, 2012. "Poverty & Privilege: Primary School Inequality in South Africa," Working Papers 13/2012, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers165
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2012/wp132012/wp-13-2012.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2012
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Nic Spaull, 2011. "A Preliminary Analysis of SACMEQ III South Africa," Working Papers 11/2011, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    2. 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.
    3. Servaas van der Berg & Cobus Burger & Ronelle Burger & Mia de Vos & Gideon du Rand & Martin Gustafsson & Eldridge Moses & Debra Shepherd & Nicholas Spaull & Stephen Taylor & Hendrik van Broekhuizen & , 2011. "Low quality education as a poverty trap," Working Papers 25/2011, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    4. Yamauchi, Futoshi, 2011. "School quality, clustering and government subsidy in post-apartheid South Africa," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(1), pages 146-156, February.
    5. Debra L. Shepherd, 2011. "Constraints to school effectiveness: what prevents poor schools from delivering results?," Working Papers 05/2011, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    6. Paul Glewwe, 2002. "Schools and Skills in Developing Countries: Education Policies and Socioeconomic Outcomes," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 40(2), pages 436-482, June.
    7. Murray Leibbrandt & Eva Wegner & Arden Finn, 2011. "The Policies for Reducing Income Inequality and Poverty in South Africa," SALDRU Working Papers 64, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    8. Stephen Taylor, 2011. "Uncovering indicators of effective school management in South Africa using the National School Effectiveness Study," Working Papers 10/2011, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Asmus Zoch, 2017. "The effect of neighbourhoods and school quality on education and labour market outcomes in South Africa," Working Papers 08/2017, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    2. Servaas van der Berg & Cobus Burger & Ronelle Burger & Mia de Vos & Gideon du Rand & Martin Gustafsson & Eldridge Moses & Debra Shepherd & Nicholas Spaull & Stephen Taylor & Hendrik van Broekhuizen & , 2011. "Low quality education as a poverty trap," Working Papers 25/2011, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    3. Stephen Taylor & Patricia Watson, 2015. "The impact of study guides on “matric” performance: Evidence from a randomised experiment," Working Papers 13/2015, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    4. Debra Shepherd, 2015. "Learn to teach, teach to learn: A within-pupil across-subject approach to estimating the impact of teacher subject knowledge on South African grade 6 performance," Working Papers 01/2015, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    5. Gabrielle Wills & Servaas van der Berg, 2018. "Measuring leadership and management and their linkages with literacy in rural and township primary schools in South Africa," Working Papers 21/2018, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    6. Johan Fourie, 2016. "The long walk to economic freedom after apartheid, and the road ahead," Working Papers 11/2016, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    7. Heleen Hofmeyr, 2018. "Home background and schooling outcomes in South Africa: Insights from the National Income Dynamics Study," Working Papers 01/2018, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    8. Venkat, Hamsa & Spaull, Nic, 2015. "What do we know about primary teachers’ mathematical content knowledge in South Africa? An analysis of SACMEQ 2007," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 121-130.
    9. Paula Armstrong, 2014. "The impact of teacher characteristics on student performance: An analysis using hierarchical linear modelling," Working Papers 25/2014, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    10. Grace Bridgman, 2020. "Correspondence between mathematics and mathematical literacy scores: an analysis from 2010 to 2018," Working Papers 03/2020, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    11. Dumisani Hompashe, 2018. "Instructional leadership and academic performance: Eastern Cape educators’ perceptions and quantitative evidence," Working Papers 13/2018, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    12. Alessandro Balestrino & Lisa Grazzini & Annalisa Luporini, 2017. "A normative justification of compulsory education," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 30(2), pages 537-567, April.
    13. Emanuela di Gropello, 2006. "Meeting the Challenges of Secondary Education in Latin America and East Asia : Improving Efficiency and Resource Mobilization," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 7173, December.
    14. Kjetil Bjorvatn & Alexander W. Cappelen & Linda Helgesson Sekei & Erik Ø. Sørensen & Bertil Tungodden, 2020. "Teaching Through Television: Experimental Evidence on Entrepreneurship Education in Tanzania," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 66(6), pages 2308-2325, June.
    15. World Bank, 2011. "Vietnam," World Bank Publications - Reports 27450, The World Bank Group.
    16. Michael Grimm, 2002. "The medium and long term effects of an expansion of education on poverty in Côte d'Ivoire. A dynamic microsimulation study," Working Papers DT/2002/12, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
    17. Nicola Branson & Julia Garlick & David Lam & Murray Leibbrandt, 2012. "Education and Inequality: The South African Case," SALDRU Working Papers 75, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
    18. Lyubimov, Ivan, 2016. "Corrupt bureaucrats, bad managers, and the slow race between education and technology," BOFIT Discussion Papers 12/2016, Bank of Finland Institute for Emerging Economies (BOFIT).
    19. Marina Bassi & Matías Busso & Sergio Urzúa & Jaime Vargas, 2012. "Disconnected: Skills, Education, and Employment in Latin America," IDB Publications (Books), Inter-American Development Bank, number 79504, February.
    20. Chaudhary, Latika, 2010. "Taxation and educational development: Evidence from British India," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 279-293, July.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Primary schooling; South Africa; SACMEQ; educational inequality; student performance;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers165. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/desunza.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Melt van Schoor (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/desunza.html .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.