Through an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data on school funding in South Africa, this paper aims to analyse the user fee policy option in public schooling in South Africa. Debate is ongoing about the role of private input into public schooling and whether this practice affects access (and the constitutional right) to basic education, and the effects of decentralised school finance policy and its outcomes. A central question is whether school fees have led to greater equality and equity in the schooling system or whether they contribute to greater inequity. Differentiation in the public schooling system is often caused by the presence of private contributions which are used to employ extra educators and lower educator ratios-significant quality differentials. Using empirical data and a disaggregated methodology, this paper illustrates how key equity indicators are affected by the presence of private contributions. Further, it is suggested that while non-state provision of education is limited in South Africa the model of user fee and private contributions is an important feature of post-apartheid education. Finally it is argued that a key challenge in post-apartheid South Africa is to address equitable access to quality education for the majority of disadvantaged learners, and enhance redistributive mechanisms in education financing in public schools.
Motala, S. Privatising public schooling in post-apartheid South Africa - equity considerations. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education (2009) 39 (2) 185-202. [DOI: 10.1080/03057920902750459]