The case for statecraft in education: The NDP, a recent book on governance, and the New Public Management inheritance

Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP16/2019
 
Publication date: December 2019
 
Author(s):
[protected email address] (ReSEP, Stellenbosch University, and Department of Basic Education)
 
Abstract:

Statecraft in the sense of building the systems of a capable state is an endeavour that should be taken seriously, yet often it is not. The paper takes issue with a position where hope in a more capable state is to some extent abandoned, or postponed, on the basis of a frustration with history. Such positions are sometimes justified through reference to alternative routes towards progress involving less reliance on a central state, and more reliance on local action and accountability. This paper argues that it is dangerous to dismiss the role of the state, especially without a careful and informed assessment of what is wrong with it. It argues that state dysfunctionality, which is clearly a reality, is so central a development problem that it warrants far more rigorous analysis than what is often found in the literature. Local accountability is also vital, but ideally as a complement to a functioning national system. The problem is not just that proponents of local action can be too quick to dismiss the role of the state. The proponents of capable states, such as the World Bank, are too often overly idealistic and impractical when they offer advice on statecraft. On some important matters, there is a mismatch between the advice and the realities planners face. The paper argues these points in the context of schooling systems, and specifically that of South Africa. It is in part a response to a recent book on governance in the South African schooling sector. It moreover makes reference to South Africa’s National Development Plan.

 
JEL Classification:

C81, I21, O21

Keywords:

Learning outcomes, governance, monitoring systems, South Africa

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26 October 2020
Last week was quiet on the domestic data front. Even so, risky assets outperformed. This included the rand exchange rate, which ignored idiosyncratic weakness in peer currency the Turkish lira. The rand was also immune to a further worsening of the COVID-19 situation in Europe. Renewed concern about the Eurozone (EZ) GDP outlook was reflected in a pullback...

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