Basic information on public education


Inclusive Education recognises the right of ALL children to feel welcomed into a supportive educational environment in their own community.

What sounds simple, masks many complexities when it comes to the capacity of ordinary local schools to respond to the needs of ALL learners, including those requiring extra support because of learning or physical disability, social disadvantage, cultural difference or other barriers to learning. In the past, these learners have often been accommodated in so-called "Special Needs schools", with specialised staff. Increasingly, the government's policy is to equip schools to support all learners, regardless of their specific circumstances. 

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Arguably, everything we do in the education sector is ultimately for the learners – so that they can learn better. So we need to be able to ascertain if our interventions have the desired effects on learning outcomes - which is a highly complex task.

In a previous blog post, we have explained some general limitations related to academic performance monitoring. In this post, we share here what kind of data sources can be used, what their shortcomings are and what can be done to circumvent these limitations.

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Arguably, everything we do in the education sector is ultimately for the learners – so that they can learn better. So we need to be able to ascertain if our interventions have the desired effects on learning outcomes. Monitoring this, however, is a highly complex task. Data on learner performance is far from straightforward.

In this first blog post, we explain the challenge of academic performance monitoring. Look out for the next blog post which focuses on the kind of data sources that can be used, or download the full word file on this topic here.

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The Whole School Evaluation (WSE) is a national policy promulgated in 2001 – but its implementation is the responsibility of provincial departments of education. The description below is based on a study done in the Western Cape, which involved a review of policy and interviews of various stakeholders. Note that there may be some variation in other provinces.

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The Integrated Quality Management System (IQMS) was promulgated in 2003 to integrate the existing programmes on quality management in education into a comprehensive package. It is a voluminous eighty-four-page document which consists of three programmes, aimed at enhancing and monitoring performance. They are:

  • developmental appraisal;
  • performance measurement; and
  • whole school evaluation

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How are school principals appointed?

Posted by Magali von Blottnitz on 03 March 2019 7:00 PM CAT
Magali von Blottnitz photo

Provincial education departments determine their own set of rules and procedures for the appointment of school principals. As an example, we share here the process defined by the Western Cape Education Department – as described by Levy et al (2018).

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Per-learner allocations for non-personnel costs

The National Norms and Standards for School Funding regulate the amount of funds each school receives for non-personnel costs.

Each school receives an allocation ‘per learner’. Per learner allocations in poorer schools (quintile 1, 2 and 3) are approximately twice as high as allocations per learner in quintile 4 schools, and six times higher than for learners in quintile 5 schools.

 Above: 2018 National Targets for per-learner allocation

Please note that these are only “national targets”

  • some provinces (usually Gauteng, Free State, Northern Cape, and Western Cape) exceed these targets
  • other provinces (Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and KZN) are below target.

The role of school fees (in quintile 4 and 5 schools)

In order to compensate for the lower amount of public funding they receive, quintile 4 and 5 schools are allowed to raise money from parents in the form of fees. However, the South African Schools Act (SASA) prohibits schools from refusing to admit a student because their parents are unable to pay for school fees.

Parents who cannot afford fees can apply for partial or total fee exemptions. When fee exemptions are granted, the Department pays the school an additional amount per exempted learner, which is meant to make up for the loss of income resulting from the fee exemption (the amount may not entirely coincide with the level of the fees).

Public schools located in low-income areas (classified as quintile 1, 2 and 3) are not allowed to charge fees. They have to cover all their non-personnel costs through state funding or raise funds through other means.

Note: In some cases, it is possible for a quintile 4 or 5 schools to apply for a no-fee school status. If the application is approved, the school will receive the same per-learner allocation as a quintile 1-3 school.

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