An existing accounting framework to describe an education system is elaborated and used as a framework for understanding and comparing the resource allocation policies of the South African and Argentinean schooling systems. The comparison highlights how, by paying fewer teachers more (relative to GDP per capita), South Africa is structurally forced to deal with relatively large class sizes. Both countries have attempted to use production function studies to understand ways of improving pupil performance, and in both countries the utilisation of education human resources appears particularly important. The economic case for expanding secondary schooling is perhaps not as strong as the policies, especially those in Argentina, suggest. Whilst rates of return to secondary schooling do not appear to offer concrete policy direction, a cross-country analysis that takes into account a secondary school completion ratio (a statistic calculated for this analysis) suggests that more policy emphasis should go towards improving the quality of secondary schooling.