Research into the correlation of low quality education and the poverty trap will be used to aid the Department of Basic Education’s mission to provide quality education to all of South Africa’s children.
This was made clear by Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga at a presentation of the research study entitled Low Quality Education as a Poverty Trap, in Pretoria on Friday.
Said Minister Motshekga: “The provision of quality education is a pre-requisite for bridging the skills gap in South Africa.”
“This research could not come at a better time -- following the release of the Annual National Assessment results – as it will allow us to use those results and strengthen the areas of academic performance that have been highlighted both in the study and in the ANA.”
The study was conducted by the Social Policy Research Group in the Department of Economics at Stellenbosch University in 2009. The research dealt with a number of data sets in order to obtain the fullest picture of any possible link between poor education and poverty. These included the National Income Dynamic Study of 2008; National Senior Certificate data for 2009 as well as all three waves of the National Schools Effectiveness Study of 2008-2010. The research coincided with a study of 135 days of classroom observation in 45 schools in the Western Cape.
It was found that due to the dualistic nature of South Africa’s school and labour markets, the 10% of individuals in the high-end of the job market were the product of good quality schools while the rest of the job market had attended schools of lesser quality.
The study also found that while the socio-economic status of a child plays a role in determining the quality of education they receive, the socio-economic status of the school they attend makes the largest contribution to their schooling.
“According to our research, the education system generally produces outcomes that reinforce current patterns of poverty and privilege instead of challenging them. Unsurprisingly we find that the inequalities in schooling outcomes manifest via labour market outcomes, perpetuating current patterns of income inequality,” read the report.
The research suggests that while 49% of education spending reaches the 40% of poorest households, schools in more affluent communities remained better resourced due to the practice of charging school fees.
“This double burden of historic disadvantage and current poverty may help to explain why South African learners perform worse than African learners facing similar levels of economic deprivation,” suggested the report.
Minister Motshekga told the audience that the research was welcome as “we need to double our efforts and do more for our kids”.
“The building blocks, such as the workbooks, are already in place and we are working on improving school infrastructure,” said the Minister.
“We have also prioritised the establishment of the Delivery and Oversight Unit to pull everything together.”
Deputy Minister of Basic Education Enver Surty took the opportunity to remind the audience that the research confirms that the Department had been focussing on the correct areas.
“The realities of the system are known to all of us and this research confirms that we have been targeting the right areas. We have prioritised areas such as teacher development, literacy and numeracy and the need to do this has been confirmed by the research,” said the Deputy Minister.
“The starting point for change in the education sector is with the poorest of the poor, and the key question is how do we get the public and our partners in the private sector to respond to this?”
Images from the event: