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EDUCATION

Economics of Education (2021)

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It’s that time of the year again! I’ll be teaching my postgraduate Applied Economics of Education course at Stellenbosch University. The course runs from the 10th of August to the end of October 2021, with in-person lectures from 9:00-11:00 on Tuesdays and in-person STATA pracs from 11:00-13:00. The full syllabus can be found HERE. If you have a strong interest in the course and would like to apply to be an auditor please complete the Google Form which is inside the course outline. Every year there are a number of local and international auditors that enrich the course by their participation. Approved auditors can join in-person at Stellenbosch or electronically via Zoom. There are a limited number of spaces for auditors and those with a quantitative and/or postgraduate background will have preference. Note also that all auditors have to do the readings and hand in the weekly reading reflections as your price of entry! I’ve included the list of readings for each lecture below:

(1) Inequality in South African education

  1. *Spaull, N. (2019). Equity: A price too high to pay? In Spaull, N. & Jansen, J. (eds): South African Schooling: The Enigma of Inequality. Springer.
  2. Collini, S. (2021). Snakes and Ladders. London Review of Books. Vol.43 (17) April 2021.
  3. Pabón, F., Leibbrandt, M., Ranchhod, V., & Savage, M. (2021). Picketty comes to South Africa. British Journal of Sociology. 2021 (72) p.106-124

(2) Sampling, assessment, and trends over time

Much of the economics of education involves analyzing sample-based surveys of educational inputs and learning outcomes. Of particular importance are the four international assessments South Africa participates in which are TIMSS (Gr5 & 9 maths and science), PIRLS (Gr4 reading), SACMEQ (Gr6 maths and literacy) and TALIS (teacher survey).  This session covers issues of inter-temporal comparability, how surveys sample schools, representivity, basic statistical concepts in sampling, interpreting results from cross-national surveys and some of the literature that has looked at this issues in SA and sub-Saharan Africa. This will also be useful for your pracs.

  1. *Van der Berg, S. & Gustafsson, M. (2019). Educational outcomes in post-apartheid South Africa: Signs of progress despite great inequality. In Spaull, N. & Jansen, J. (eds): South African Schooling: The Enigma of Inequality. Springer.
  2. *Spaull, N., and Taylor, S., (2015). Access to what? Creating a composite measure of educational quantity and educational quality for 11 African countries. Comparative Education Review. Vol. 58, No. 1. (optional extras: Taylor & Spaull, 2015 and Lilenstein 2018 for francophone West Africa)
  3. Singh, A. (2015) How standard is a standard deviation? A cautionary note on using SDs to compare across impact evaluations in education. Development Impact. World Bank. (Online). Available: [Accessed: 11 July 2018]

(3) Early grade reading in South Africa: What do we know?

  1. *Spaull, N. & Pretorius, E. (2019). Still falling at the first hurdle: Early grade reading outcomes in South Africa. In Spaull, N. & Jansen, J. (eds): South African Schooling: The Enigma of Inequality. Springer.
  2. *Ardington, C., Wills, G., Pretorius, E., Mohohlwane, N., & Menendez, A. (2021) Benchmarking oral reading fluency in the early grades in Nguni languages. International Journal of Educational Development 84 (2021)

(4) Education in the time of COVID-19 in South Africa

  1. *Ardington, C., Wills, G., & Kotze, J (2021, forthcoming). COVID-19 learning losses: early grade reading in South Arica. Manuscript for RISE conference.
  2. *Shepherd, D. & Mohohlwane, N. (2021). The impact of COVID-19 in education – more than a year of disruption. NIDS-CRAM Wave 5 Working Paper.
  3. Spaull, N. & Van der Berg, S. (2020). Counting the cost: COVID-19 school closures in South Africa and its impact on children. South African Journal of Childhood Education. Vol 10(11).

(5) Teachers and the budget in South Africa: The R200bn question

  1. *Spaull, N., Lilenstein, A., & Carel, D. (2020). The Race between Teacher Wages and the Budget – the case of South Africa 2008-2018. RESEP.
  2. Gustafsson, M. (2012). Incentives for teachers within the salary system. DBE. Pretoria.
  3. Gustafsson. 2020. Selected extracts from teacher demand work.

(6) Government plans for South African Education

  1. *Gustafsson, M. (2019). Pursuing change through policy in the schooling sector 2007-2017. In Spaull, N. & Jansen, J. (eds): South African Schooling: The Enigma of Inequality. Springer.
  2. *Van der Berg, S., Gustafsson, M., & Malindi, K. (2020). Education and skills for the economy and links to labour markets in South Africa. Position Paper June 2020. National Planning Commission.
  3. Department of Basic Education. (2020). Action Plan to 2024: Towards the realisation of Schooling 2030. Overview. Full document. DBE. Pretoria.
  4. Presidency (2019). Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2019-2024. Presidency. Pretoria

(7) The myth of evidence-based policymaking

  1. *Cairney, P. & Oliver, K. (2017). Evidence-based policymaking is not like evidence-based medicine, so how far should you go to bridge the divide between evidence and policy? Health Research Policy and System 15:35.
  2. *White, H. (2019). The twenty-first century experimenting society: the four waves of the evidence revolution. Palgrave Communications 5(47) 2019.
  3. Ganimian, A. (2017) Not drawn to scale? RCTs and education reform in developing countries. Research on Improving Systems of Education. (Online).  [5 June 2019]
  4. Kremer, M., Brannen, C., & Glennerster, R. (2013). The Challenge of Education and Learning in the Developing World. Science 340, 297 (2013)
  5. Ravallion, M. (2020) Should the Randomistas (Continue to) Rule? Working Paper 27554. NBER Working Paper.

(8) #FeesMustFall: Who should pay for higher education?

This ‘lecture’ is actually a class debate. The class will be split into two opposing teams and the motion is “This House believes that higher education should be completely free for all students who are accepted by higher education institutions in South Africa.”

  1. *Van Broekhuizen, H., Van der Berg, S., & Hofmeyr, H. (2016). Higher Education Access and Outcomes for the 2008 National Matric Cohort. Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers 16/16.
  2. Davis Tax Committee. 2016. Report on the Funding of Tertiary Education. (Online).
  3. Chapman, B. (2006) Income Contingent Loans for Higher Education: International Reforms. Handbook of the Economics of Education (Vol 2) pp 1435-1503.

(9) Vouchers & Public Private Partnerships

  1. *Epple, D., Romano, R., & Urquiola, M. (2017). School Vouchers: A Survey of the Economics Literature. Journal of Economic Literature, 55(2), 441-492.

(10) Are we there yet?

This session will discuss South Africa’s current rates of improvement, promising avenues for improvements and key research questions going forward.

  1. *Cruz., L & Loureiro, C. (2020). Achieving world-class education in adverse socioeconomic conditions: The case of Sobral in Brazil. World Bank

Gustafsson, M. (2019). How fast can levels of proficiency improve? Examining Historical Trends to Inform SDG 4.1.1 Scenarios. UNESCO Institute for Statistics. (also see blog here)

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