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School quality and the performance of disadvantaged learners in South Africa

Author

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  • Marisa Coetzee

    () (Department of Econmics, University of Stellenbosch)

Abstract

In South Africa, school quality within the public school system is heterogeneous and highly stratified along race, socio-economic status and geographic location. Because of the lingering effect of racial segregation, schools which historically served the white minority and accordingly received a much higher endowment of inputs are still out-performing schools which historically served the black population, 20 years after the end of apartheid. Under-privileged black children who select into these former white schools are typically from richer households than their counterparts who remain in the former black part of the school system, although significantly poorer than their white peers. In this paper, I use longitudinal data from the National School Effectiveness Study which collected test scores and background information on children in grades 3, 4 and 5 in both school systems in order to estimate the effect of attending a historically white school on the numeracy and literacy scores of black children. The models are estimated using a value-added approach in order to control for unobserved child-specific heterogeneity in the form of individual ability by controlling for lagged test scores. In addition, the various household covariates available in the data are used to control for household-level differences among children. I find a slightly larger effect for attending a former white school in South Africa than has previously been estimated for private schools in India and Pakistan and assess the validity of the estimates using various robustness checks. I also discuss the potential bias which may remain.

Suggested Citation

  • Marisa Coetzee, 2014. "School quality and the performance of disadvantaged learners in South Africa," Working Papers 22/2014, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers227
    as

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    File URL: https://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2014/wp222014/wp-22-2014.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2014
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Jesse Rothstein, 2010. "Teacher Quality in Educational Production: Tracking, Decay, and Student Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(1), pages 175-214.
    2. Adrienne M. Lucas & Isaac M. Mbiti, 2014. "Effects of School Quality on Student Achievement: Discontinuity Evidence from Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 234-263, July.
    3. Tahir Andrabi & Jishnu Das & Asim Ijaz Khwaja & Tristan Zajonc, 2011. "Do Value-Added Estimates Add Value? Accounting for Learning Dynamics," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 29-54, July.
    4. 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.
    5. 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.
    6. Nicholas Spaull, 2012. "Poverty & Privilege: Primary School Inequality in South Africa," Working Papers 13/2012, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
    7. 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)

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    Cited by:

    1. Marisa von Fintel & Servaas van der Berg, 2017. "What a difference a good school makes! Persistence in academic performance and the impact of school quality," Working Papers 07/2017, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics, revised 2017.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    education; school choice; South Africa; value-added models; National School Effectiveness Study (NSES);

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I24 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Inequality
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration

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