n Perspectives in Education - Undoing the apartheid legacy : pro-poor spending shifts in the South African public school system : research article

Volume 24, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 0258-2236


By using a consolidated dataset of schools derived from a range of administrative systems, it is shown that overall public spending in the schooling system was close to being equal, though it marginally favoured the rich in 2005. A historical comparison reveals that the 2005 public spending pattern was around 17 times more equal than the apartheid pattern that existed in 1991. The concentration index is used for much of the measurement of spending equity. To better understand the overall pattern in 2005, public spending by province and economic category are analysed. Certain economic categories are found to display a pro- poor distribution, whereas others show a pro-rich distribution. These differences are shown to be the result of specific political and labour relations dynamics. Although school fees reduce equity in the total spending pattern, this total pattern is shown to be five times more equitable than the distribution for public spending alone in 1991. It is argued that the fact that school funding is more progressively distributed than either household expenditure or learner performance can bode well for the future.

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