The Politics and Governance of Basic Education: A Tale of Two South African Provinces

ESID Working Paper No 67. Manchester: Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre, The University of Manchester

48 Pages Posted: 20 Dec 2016

See all articles by Brian Levy

Brian Levy

Johns Hopkins University; University of Cape Town (UCT)

Robert Cameron

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Department of Political Studies

Ursula Hoadley

University of Cape Town

Vinothan Naidoo

Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC)

Date Written: November 18, 2016

Abstract

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.

Keywords: South Africa, education, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, institutions

Suggested Citation

Levy, Brian and Cameron, Robert and Hoadley, Ursula and Naidoo, Vinothan, The Politics and Governance of Basic Education: A Tale of Two South African Provinces (November 18, 2016). ESID Working Paper No 67. Manchester: Effective States and Inclusive Development Research Centre, The University of Manchester, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2887441 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2887441

Brian Levy (Contact Author)

Johns Hopkins University ( email )

Baltimore, MD 20036-1984
United States

University of Cape Town (UCT) ( email )

Private Bag X3
Rondebosch, Western Cape 7701
South Africa

Robert Cameron

University of Cape Town (UCT) - Department of Political Studies ( email )

Rondebosch, Cape Town 7701
South Africa

Ursula Hoadley

University of Cape Town ( email )

Private Bag X3
Rondebosch, Western Cape 7701
South Africa

Vinothan Naidoo

Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa (HSRC)

118 Buitengracht Street
Cape Town, 8001
South Africa

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
96
Abstract Views
721
Rank
403,314
PlumX Metrics