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    Reimagining Basic Education in South Africa: Lessons from the Eastern Cape

    Reimagining Basic Education in South Africa: Lessons from the Eastern Cape is the result of a MISTRA research project that set out to examine the roles of power and politics, governance and management, as well as accountability and professionalism in transforming the educational systems inherited in our country. The Eastern Cape self-selects in that regard as it reflects a concentrated expression of the fault lines of apartheid colonialism. With its vast stretches of rural settlements and a few urban sprawls, a population exhibiting high levels of social inequality manifesting largely along racial lines, and a community in which patriarchy plays out among the poor and the rich alike, there was no doubt that changing the educational system in the Eastern Cape was going to be a mammoth undertaking.
    This study traces the efforts to set up an integrated Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE) and the ebbs and flows in trying to implement national policy in that unique environment. It seeks to understand the successes and failures in that regard, including those of national interventions introduced to assume direct responsibility for running the provincial department. A number of factors requiring focused attention emerge, including educational infrastructure; shifting management and administration from school to district and provincial levels; financial resources; teacher quality and development; the contradictory roles of culture, and the impact of a particular brand of teacher unionism.
    But beyond those specifics, the study is unique in its utilisation of the ‘theory of change’ model to understand the medium- to long-term goals of the provincial educational system and to identify the preconditions required  for an effective, integrated, and equitable educational system in the Eastern Cape Province. The model is particularly useful in distinguishing between policy reform and system change, with the latter being one of the weakest links in transforming the educational system across the country. Predicated on the educational objectives outlined in the National Development Plan, the study positions the theory of change in a local setting: firstly, by examining t inherited socio-economic contexts; secondly, by examining the reasons as well as the conditions and paradigms behind the status quo; and thirdly, by projecting what needs to be done to attain the objectives.​
    The purchase a copy of this publication please contact Angela McClelland at or 011 646 2844.​

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