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How effective are poor schools? Poverty and educational outcomes in South Africa

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  • Servaas van der Berg

    () (Department of Economics, Stellenbosch University)

Abstract

Massive differentials on achievement tests and examinations reflect South Africa’s divided past. Improving the distribution of educational outcomes is imperative to overcome labour market inequalities. Historically white and Indian schools still outperform black and coloured schools in examinations, and intraclass correlation coefficients (rho) reflect far greater between-school variance compared to overall variance than for other countries. SACMEQ’s rich data sets provide new possibilities for investigating relationships between educational outcomes, socio-economic status (SES), pupil and teacher characteristics, school resources and school processes. As a different data generating process applied in affluent historically white schools (test scores showed bimodal distributions), part of the analysis excluded such schools, sharply reducing rho. Test scores were regressed on various SES measures and school inputs for the full and reduced sample, using survey regression and hierarchical (multilevel) (HLM) models to deal with sample design and nested data. This shows that the school system was not yet systematically able to overcome inherited socio-economic disadvantage, and poor schools least so. Schools diverged in their ability to convert inputs into outcomes, with large standard deviations for random effects in the HLM models. The models explained three quarters of the large between-school variance but little of the smaller within-school variance. Outside of the richest schools, SES had only a mild impact on test scores, which were quite low in SACMEQ context.

Suggested Citation

  • Servaas van der Berg, 2006. "How effective are poor schools? Poverty and educational outcomes in South Africa," Working Papers 06/2006, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers20
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    File URL: https://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2006/wp062006/wp-06-2006.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anne Case & Angus Deaton, 1999. "School Inputs and Educational Outcomes in South Africa," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(3), pages 1047-1084.
    2. Hanushek, Eric A., 2002. "Publicly provided education," Handbook of Public Economics,in: A. J. Auerbach & M. Feldstein (ed.), Handbook of Public Economics, edition 1, volume 4, chapter 30, pages 2045-2141 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nic Spaull, 2011. "A Preliminary Analysis of SACMEQ III South Africa," Working Papers 11/2011, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    2. Taylor, Stephen & Spaull, Nicholas, 2015. "Measuring access to learning over a period of increased access to schooling: The case of Southern and Eastern Africa since 2000," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 47-59.
    3. Taylor, Stephen & von Fintel, Marisa, 2016. "Estimating the impact of language of instruction in South African primary schools: A fixed effects approach," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 75-89.
    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. Rulof Burger & Rachel Jafta, 2006. "Returns to Race: Labour Market Discrimination in Post-Apartheid South Africa," Working Papers 04/2006, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    6. 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.
    7. Stephen Taylor & Servaas van der Berg & Vijay Reddy & Dean Janse van Rensburg, 2011. "How well do South African schools convert grade 8 achievement into matric outcomes?," Working Papers 13/2011, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    8. Derek Yu, 2012. "Youths in the South African labour market since the transition: A study of changes between 1995 and 2011," Working Papers 18/2012, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    9. repec:eee:injoed:v:56:y:2017:i:c:p:1-10 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Kaus, Wolfhard, 2013. "Conspicuous consumption and “race”: Evidence from South Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 100(1), pages 63-73.
    11. Stephen Taylor & Nicholas Spaull, 2013. "The effects of rapidly expanding primary school access on effective learning: The case of Southern and Eastern Africa since 2000," Working Papers 01/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    12. Debra Shepherd, 2013. "A question of efficiency: decomposing South African reading test scores using PIRLS 2006," Working Papers 20/2013, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    13. Debra L. Shepherd, 2011. "Constraints to school effectiveness: what prevents poor schools from delivering results?," Working Papers 05/2011, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Analysis of Education;

    JEL classification:

    • J21 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Labor Force and Employment, Size, and Structure

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