Uneducating South Africa : the failure to address the need for human capital - a - 1910 - 1993
This paper presents some detailed historical time series on the South African schooling system since union in 19 10. As such it represents an exercise that to our knowledge has not been undertaken before, with the
possible exception of Malherbe (1977) that covered a more limited time span. The data collected for the study covers a wide range of education indicators, pupil enrolments, pupil teacher ratios, real expenditure (aggregate and per capita), matriculation pass rates, to some indicators of the quality of matriculation passes.
We thus provide an indication of both inputs into and outputs of the educational system. Given South unique historical legacy, we continue to apply the racial classification that characterised the Apartheid era indeed, a focus of the paper comes to rest on the form and nature of the distinctions that existed between the schooling systems accessible to the different statutorily defined racial groups in South Africa. While at least some of our conclusions have perhaps been captured for some time by more anecdotal evidence, and by less systematic studies such as those provided by the South Institute of Race Relations, one merit of the present report is that we capture important features of the schooling system in hard data terms, in series which are consistently defined over a fairly protracted period of time.
The study has a number of justifications. First, we believe that a sound understanding of the historical background to the state the educational system currently itself in South Africa is vital to the sound formulation of policy. Second, many of the theoretical advances of modem growth theory have turned on the centrality of human capital and its development and empirical studies have in come to focus on the link between education and long run economic performance. The present paper is part of a wider project concerned with a time series modeling of the growth performance of South Africa, incorporating standard economic determinants, human capital indicators, and a range of factors that have come to enter the growth debate. It thus represents one of the core data components necessary to an understanding of the impact that education in South Africa has had not just on of its population in broadly based human development terms, but also on the narrowly defined per capita income of the South African population.
It is perhaps useful to highlight the central, if rather unsurprising, conclusion that emerges our fmdings.
South Africa’s schooling system has seldom if ever, and still does not represent human capital formation that can be described as healthy. Even the very best schooling sector shows strong signs of having failed to produce the sort of human capital that we might wish for and trends in the 1990’s continue to point in the wrong, rather than the directions.