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

Author

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  • Martin Gustafsson

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

Abstract

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
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    File URL: https://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2019/wp162019/wp162019.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2019
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    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

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