Previous studies on the role of the school in influencing attainment in South African schools have concluded that the inequalities which are known to exist in these are still largely due to the legacy of the Apartheid system on schooling. More recently policy focus has been on narrowing the gap between these in terms of the inequality in school resource levels and facilities.
The work presented here investigates which pupil background, school context and school resources (human and physical) factors affect individual pupil academic attainment by concentrating on developing separate multi-level models for individual learners of similar socio-economic status. This approach allows for the possibility that different in and out of school factors combine to explain the differences in attained mathematics and reading scores of South African Grade 6 pupils participating in the SACMEQ II survey in 2000, and that this could be dependent on the socio-economic status of the learner.
The conclusion discusses some pointers for South African policy. It is argued that focus should be wider than just on the resourcing levels of schools and whether or not they are efficient in using these resources to improve educational outcomes. The evidence points to the need additionally to target deprived, mainly rural, neighbourhoods and develop interventions and alternative strategies to overcome some of the acute social disadvantages pupils, especially of lowest socio-economic status, bring with them into school. These include poor nutrition, lower fluency levels in the language of instruction used in schools and higher chances of living away from home to be schooled.
Bristol, UK: EdQual. ISBN: 978-1-906675-30-1, 35 pp.
EdQual Working Paper No. 24. Which in and out of school factors explain variations in learning across different socioeconomic groups? Findings from South Africa.