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Regional themes > Children and education Last update: 2020-11-27  

Determinants of Grade 12 Pass Rates in the post-Apartheid South African Schooling System

Haroon Bhorat and Morne Oosthuizen

Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town

SARPN acknowledges the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) as the source of this document:
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Perhaps the most lasting residue of the system of racial exclusivity in South Africa, lies in the preferential resource allocation and access to schooling provided to White pupils over and above all other racial groups. At the height of apartheid, for every R1.00 spent on White pupils, per capita expenditure on Indian pupils was 76 cents, for Coloured pupils it was 48 cents , while expenditure on each African pupils stood at 19 cents1. By 1997, 3 years into the post-apartheid era, the resource allocation had shifted dramatically: Hence for every R1.00 spent on African pupils, 90 and 99 cents on Coloured and Indian pupils – and 71 cents per White pupil (derived from van der Berg,2006). Although this figure does skew the extent of the reallocation, by virtue of the inclusion of personnel expenditure, it is true that increased spending toward poorer schools has taken place in the post-1994 period (Department of Education,2003). This fiscal reallocation is captured within the parlance of South Africa, as the process of ‘redress’ in education. One of the key research issues arising out of this dramatic switch then, is the extent to which this racial restructuring in schooling expenditure has resulted in improved schooling outcomes.

The existence of appropriate microdatasets have enabled fairly detailed studies in particular on the role of schooling in predicting earnings and other labour market outcomes in the post-apartheid South African labour market (Chamberlain & van der Berg, 2002; Anderson, Case & Lam, 2001; Hertz,2003). However, perhaps in large part due to the paucity of school-specific data, analyses of the various factors that shape schooling outcomes are in short supply for South Africa generally, and even more so for post-apartheid South Africa. In this respect, existing analyses are either dated, not based on national data or attempt to glean schooling outcomes from survey data, rather than schooling datasets (see Crouch & Mabogoane,2001; Burger & van der Berg,2003; Case & Deaton 1999 and Crouch & Mabogoane,1998).

This study, through the availability of various schooling-related data sets, will attempt to add to what will hopefully become a more expansive literature, focusing on pre-labour market human capital concerns. Our study therefore focuses on Grade 12 pass rates across all Grade 12-offering schools, and in so doing, will provide estimates on the determinants of these pass rates in the post-apartheid period. We rely conceptually and empirically on an achievement production function approach. Section II below provides an overview of our method and approach in which we also cover issues of data and the constraints with the surveys utilised. Section III provides an overview of the statistics in descriptive form, together with the proposed estimation technique. Sections IV and V provide an overview of the econometric approach, followed by the results and discussion from the estimation. Section V concludes.

View presentation - 289Kb ~ 2 min

Final Report II: School Performance in the 2000 Senior Certificate Examinations - 673Kb ~ 4 min (50 pages)

Final Report III: Determinants of Grade 12 Pass Rates - 585Kb ~ 3 min (26 pages)

  1. Figures sourced from Moulder (1992) with authors’ own computations.

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