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Uneducating South Africa: the failure to address the 1910 – 1993 legacy

27 September 1998
Publication Type: Working Paper

This paper presents some detailed historical time series on the South African schooling system since union in 1910. The data collected for the study covers a wide range of education indicators, from pupil enrolments, pupil teacher ratios, real expenditure (aggregate and per capita), matriculation pass rates, to some indicators of the quality of matriculation passes. We thus provide an indication of both inputs into and outputs of the educational system. In broad terms, the data indicate that from an educational perspective South Africa followed a modernisation trajectory that, although it drew ever larger numbers of pupils into the schooling system, was partial, distorted and fundamentally dysfunctional. In particular, the data indicates that the quality of all inputs into the educational process was strongly differentiated by race, as are the output measures collected for this study. We acknowledge the financial support of the South African Network for Economic Research and the University of Natal Research Fund, without which this paper would not have been possible. Julia de Kadt, Rodrigo Catril and Martine Mariotti provided valuable assistance in the preparation of the data series. Comments from David Lam, Martin Carnoy, Charles Simkins, Kathy Munro, Harry Zarenda and participants at seminars at the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor), Princeton University, and the University of the Witwatersrand proved valuable in correcting errors, omissions and misconceptions. Responsibility for all remaining mistakes vests in us
alone.

Series title: Working Paper (Interest) 02
1 December 1998
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