South Africa: What's a Good Education Bureaucracy Worth? the Case of the Western Cape

analysis

What's a good education bureaucracy worth? One common explanation for the poor performance of South Africa's schools is that 'it's the bureaucracy's fault'. Indeed, South Africa's public bureaucracies get lots of things wrong. But as UCT research explored in depth, a narrow preoccupation with bureaucratic effectiveness may be directing attention away from some especially promising responses to the country's current challenges - in education, and more broadly.

Take the example of the Western Cape Education Department (WCED), a major focus of the research. As education bureaucracies go, the WCED is strong. Evidence of its strength comes from a surprising source - the office of the Presidency, during the Jacob Zuma era. In 2012, the Presidency's Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation undertook management performance assessment tests of public organisations and departments at both national and provincial-level. Of the nine provincial education departments, the WCED received far and away the highest rating; Gauteng, was second highest. The Eastern Cape (a focus of an earlier piece in the Daily Maverick and...

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