The when and how of leaving school: The policy implications of new evidence on secondary schooling in South Africa

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP09/2011
 
Publication date: 2011
 
Author(s):
[protected email address] (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)
 
Abstract:

South African and international household and education datasets are analysed to characterise patterns of dropping out, grade repetition, academic under-performance and under-preparedness for post-school life in South African secondary schools. A number of measurement error problems are moreover discussed and in some cases remedied. The proportion of South African youths entering upper secondary schooling is above the trend found in comparable middle income countries, the proportion entering the last grade (Grade 12) is about average, but the proportion successfully completing secondary schooling (40%) is below average. The data suggest improving quality should be a greater planning priority than increasing enrolments. A what-if subject choice analysis using examination data moreover suggests that successful completion could be greatly enhanced by guiding students to more appropriate subject choices, possibly through a more standardised set of assessments in Grade 9. Any attempt to reduce dropping out must pay close attention to financial constraints experienced by students with respect to relatively low-cost inputs such as books. Teenage pregnancies must be reduced as these explain half of female dropping out. The quality problem in schools underlined by the fact that income returns and test score gains associated with each additional year of secondary schooling are well below those associated with a year of post-school education.

 
JEL Classification:

E24, I28, J31

Keywords:

Human capital, Unemployment, Earnings function, South Africa, Secondary schools, Examinations, Education policy

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BER Weekly

21 January
Domestically, markets were focused on the latest meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the SA Reserve Bank (SARB) last week. On the global front, the news flow was dominated by British political chaos associated with the Brexit debacle. Besides a brief overview of the MPC decision, the domestic section looks at the latest retail sales data,...

Read the full issue