South Africa: Access before quality, and what to do now?

Type Journal Article - Profesorado: Revista de curriculum y formación del profesorado
Title South Africa: Access before quality, and what to do now?
Volume 10
Issue 1
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2006
Page numbers 0-0
This paper will argue that, even if this tradeoff between mass access and average quality exists as a potential, or as a tendency, the evidence seems to indicate that most countries actually deal with the tradeoff reasonably successfully. The reconciliation of access (or
equity) and quality is a matter of purposive policy, and is something that has been achieved when countries take policy courses where debate and experimentation result in improvements in both access and quality. But some countries (in fact, one particular set of
countries) are an interesting and important exception—they show an important imbalance between access and quality. This imbalance illustrates the fact that the tension is between access and quality is real, and can only be overcome with conscious and hard-fought policy changes and implementation efforts. The region in question is Southern Africa. Within that region, South Africa seems paradigmatic. The paper will explore the typically Southern African (and South African specifically) imbalance between access and quality, will suggest that this imbalance may be a cautionary tale for other countries embarking on the massification of secondary education, and will explain what South Africa is doing at present to consciously attempt to redress the imbalance between access and quality.

Related studies