The right to a basic education is enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and the South African Schools Act has made it compulsory for all children to attend school from seven to fifteen. This legislation embodies the South African government's commitment to the 'Education for All' Dakar 2000 Declaration and the Millennium Development Goals. As with most education policies, the implementation of compulsory basic education and progressive availability to further education is influenced by various external factors and subject to distortions and obstacles. This research paper reports on the first of three interrelated questions which form the framework for a larger school participation research programme. This paper addresses the patterns and prevalence of initial school enrolment, late entry, attainment promotion, and repetition in urban South Africa. The paper pays special attention to the particular gender nature of the patterns of school participation. The study analyses data generated in the genuine representative cohort study, Birth-to-Twenty (Bt20). This is particularly significant as it is well documented that school and census datasets can be unreliable particularly when it comes to repetition rates. The Bt20 dataset overcomes the common errors that bias flow-rates such as overreporting enrolment/repeaters, incorrect distinction between new entrants and repeaters, and transfers of pupils between grades and schools.
CREATE Pathways to Access Research Monograph No. 27, ISBN 0-901881-31-7, 23 pp.