IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The case for statecraft in education: The NDP, a recent book on governance, and the New Public Management inheritance


  • Martin Gustafsson

    () (ReSEP, Stellenbosch University, and Department of Basic Education)


Statecraft in the sense of building the systems of a capable state is an endeavour that should be taken seriously, yet often it is not. The paper takes issue with a position where hope in a more capable state is to some extent abandoned, or postponed, on the basis of a frustration with history. Such positions are sometimes justified through reference to alternative routes towards progress involving less reliance on a central state, and more reliance on local action and accountability. This paper argues that it is dangerous to dismiss the role of the state, especially without a careful and informed assessment of what is wrong with it. It argues that state dysfunctionality, which is clearly a reality, is so central a development problem that it warrants far more rigorous analysis than what is often found in the literature. Local accountability is also vital, but ideally as a complement to a functioning national system. The problem is not just that proponents of local action can be too quick to dismiss the role of the state. The proponents of capable states, such as the World Bank, are too often overly idealistic and impractical when they offer advice on statecraft. On some important matters, there is a mismatch between the advice and the realities planners face. The paper argues these points in the context of schooling systems, and specifically that of South Africa. It is in part a response to a recent book on governance in the South African schooling sector. It moreover makes reference to South Africa’s National Development Plan.

Suggested Citation

  • Martin Gustafsson, 2019. "The case for statecraft in education: The NDP, a recent book on governance, and the New Public Management inheritance," Working Papers 16/2019, Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers330

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2019
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Learning outcomes; governance; monitoring systems; South Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data; Data Access
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • O21 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Planning Models; Planning Policy


    Access and download statistics


    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:wpapers330. 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: (Melt van Schoor). General contact details of provider: .

    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.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.

    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.