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Equality and Redress in Education: Educator Allocation in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Adrienne Pon


After the democratic South African government came into power in 1994, the education system faced the challenge to redress socioeconomic disadvantages inherited from apartheid. My research examines one component of the new education system: the distribution of educators. I use government data not publicly available to document educator distribution trends among schools of different levels of poverty in two provinces, Gauteng and the Western Cape. The quantity and level of qualifications of educators are measured, and the trends are linked to student outcomes. The results are consistent across both provinces: Descriptive statistics and regression analysis finds that, on average, schools with relatively less poverty experience a lower pupil-educator ratio and have educators of higher qualifications. A contributor to this inequality is the practice of local school governing bodies in relatively wealthier schools hiring additional educators beyond what the state provides. State provision is itself a contributor to inequality in some cases. The impact of the quantity of educators and of the level of qualifications on student outcomes is unclear. Ultimately, my research suggests that the current distribution of educators in South Africa falls short of the principles of equality and redress at the foundation of the postapartheid education system.

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