Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Working Paper - ESID Working Paper
Title The politics and governance of basic education: A tale of two South African provinces
Issue 67
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL http://www.effective-states.org/wp-content/uploads/working_papers/final-pdfs/esid_wp_67_levy_cameron​_hoadley_naidoo.pdf
This paper synthesises the findings of research on the politics and governance in
South Africa, undertaken at multiple levels, and using multiple methods. The
research explored two core questions: how politics and background institutions
influence educational bureaucracies; and the relative merits of hierarchical and
horizontal governance. South Africa’s institutional arrangements provide a ‘natural
experiment’ for analysing these questions. While policymaking, the regulatory
framework and resourcing are uniform nationally, responsibility for implementation is
delegated to the country’s nine provinces, which differ substantially from one another,
both politically and institutionally. The Western Cape emerges as a strong performer
relative to other South African provinces. However, econometric analysis confirms
that, notwithstanding strong bureaucracy and abundant resources, its outcomes were
below those achieved in Kenya.
The institutional arrangements also assign substantial responsibilities ‘horizontally’ to
school governing bodies, where parents are in the majority. School-level case studies
detail how in the Western Cape a combination of strong bureaucracy and weak
horizontal governance can result in unstable patterns of internal governance, and
sometimes a low-level equilibrium of mediocrity. In the Eastern Cape, pro-active
engagement on the part of communities and parents sometimes serves as a partial
institutional substitute – supporting school-level performance even where the broader
governance environment is dysfunctional.

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