Academic journal article Perspectives in Education

Mapping Socio-Economic Status, Geographical Location and Matriculation Pass Rates in Gauteng, South Africa

Academic journal article Perspectives in Education

Mapping Socio-Economic Status, Geographical Location and Matriculation Pass Rates in Gauteng, South Africa

Article excerpt


Prior to 1994, South African children in school usually attended a neighbourhood one, close to where they lived. But, as apartheid laws restricted where people could live by their race, school enrolment was effectively both racially and geographically zoned (Swilling, 1991; Kalloway, 1997; Bell & McKay, 2011). Under apartheid, racial categorisation also conferred socio-economic status, so schooling was further segregated by class. Furthermore, children usually attended a school that had their home language as the language of teaching and learning (Johnson, 1982; Molteno, 1984).

Post 1994, the South African Schools Act (SASA), Act No 84 of 1996, gave learners the legal right to access any public school, regardless of race. African learners, who could afford it, flocked to enrol in former white schools (Soudien & Sayed, 2003; Maile, 2004; Msila, 2008; Fataar, 2009; Bell & McKay, 2011). This movement was primarily to access 'quality' education, as apartheid actively embedded inequality into South African society by purposefully (and massively) underfunding African schools (Christie & Collins, 1982; Pillay, 1990; Weber, 2002; Fleisch, 2008).

African schools under apartheid were characterised by too few teachers (many of whom were under or unqualified), thinly spread physical resources, and poor school management (Chisholm, 1983; Nattrass & Seekings, 2001; Fataar, 2008). Furthermore, as sites for the anti-apartheid struggle, any culture of teaching and learning that did prevail, was destroyed in the 'liberation before education' campaign (Enslin & Pendlebury, 1998; Hofmeyr, 2000; Maile, 2004).

Unfortunately, in general, most schools offering quality public education were semi-privatised under the de Klerk government, just prior to the 1994 transition. These schools, thus, began charging school fees, meaning that access was restricted by the ability to pay. Even though the post-apartheid government subsequently introduced a school fee waiver system, there is evidence that it does not work well. Moreover, in Gauteng, schools are allowed to manage admissions using geographical catchment zoning, the boundaries of which often conform to former apartheid spatial configurations (Bell & McKay, 2011). So, not only must parents be able to pay the fees, they must also either relocate to a former white area or commute to gain access to quality education (Sekete et al., 2001; Louw, 2004; Redpath, 2006; Soudien, 2007; Bell & McKay, 2011; GDE, 2011; Lancaster, 2011; Lucas, 2011). Thus, access to quality education is now driven more by class division than by race division alone (Lemon, 1994; 1995; Sayed, 1999; Bush & Heystek, 2003). That is, children of people of high social standing (regardless of race) access well-resourced schools. Children of the poor do not (Sujee, 2004, Soudien et al., 2004, Fiske & Ladd, 2006; Redpath, 2006; Woolman & Fleish, 2009; Bloch, 2010; Bell & McKay, 2011). Sadly, then, it seems that many learners, by dint of their socio-economic status, may be permanently locked into enrolling in poorly resourced schools. Geographically, in Gauteng, they are 'zoned' outside of the catchment zones of the resourced schools. Financially, they are confined to township schools which have not transformed into sites of excellence, despite massive injections of money into education by the post-apartheid government. Township are still characterised by fewer, less qualified teachers, poor physical resources (such as libraries), and poor school management systems (Bush & Heystek, 2003; Herman, 2003; Gustafsson & Patel, 2006; Motala, 2006; Evoh & Mafu, 2007).

This study seeks to contribute to the literature by providing a detailed analysis of high school location, socio-economic status, and matriculation pass rates for the province of Gauteng. It seeks to examine the effect that embedded spatial apartheid and resource inequality has on the distribution of matriculation pass rates across Gauteng. …

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