Marking time: inefficiencies in the schooling system and possible responses

It is not new to note that South Africa has an inefficient schooling system. The adjective ‘inefficient’ has most commonly be used to refer to the cost of education provision relative to very low educational output or learning outcomes. This poor quality ‘output’ can be seen in local and international assessments such as the Department of Education’s Systemic Evaluations, and the TIMMS, PIRLS and SACMEQ studies respectively. Yet the inefficiency of South Africa’s patterns of school participation is less often referred to and requires closer attention by policy makers than it has received. These patterns are characterised by high enrolment rates well beyond compulsory school-going age and phase, high rates of grade repetition and low levels of Grade 12 completion.