Educ research

My research:

Journal articles:

Book Chapters

Other Research:

  1. 2013 RESEP Education Reading Group

During 2013 RESEP will be hosting a bi-weekly reading group where we discuss important readings in the field of education and the economics of education. I include the papers we will discuss each week below:

  1. [26 Feb] Pritchett & Beatty (2012) “The negative consequences of overambitious curricula in developing countries
  2. [12 Mar] Ferreira Gignoux (2013) “The measurement of educational inequality: Achievement and opportunity
  3. [26 Mar] Elmore (2004) Agency, Reciprocity and Accountability in Democratic Education.
  4. [9 Apr] Schlotter, Schwerdt and Woessman (2009) Methods for causal evaluation of education policies and practices: An econometric toolbox
Some core journal articles on South African education:
This list is not a definitive list of important journal articles on South African education, it is my selection, and I’m open to other suggestions. Secondly, as far as I am aware, there is no breach of copyright here since the books are either open-source (like HSRC) and the articles are available elsewhere on the internet.
  1. Ball, D, Hill, H & Bass, H. (2005). Knowing Mathematics for Teaching: Who knows mathematics well enough to teach third grade, and how can we decide? American Educator (Fall 2005).
  2. Bruns, B., Filmer, D., & Patrinos, H. (2011). Making Schools Work: New evidence on accountability reforms. Washington DC: World Bank.
  3. Carnoy, M., Chisolm, L., et al,  (2008). Towards Understanding Student Academic Performance in South Africa: A Pilot Study of Grade 6 Mathematics Lessons in South Africa. Pretoria: HSRC.
  4. Carnoy, M., Chisholm, L., & Chilisa, B. (2012). The Low Achievement Trap: Comparing Schooling in Botswana and South Africa. Cape Town: HSRC Press.
  5. Case, A., & Deaton, A. (1999). School Inputs and Educational Outcomes in South Africa. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 114(3), 1047-1084.
  6. Crouch, L., & Mabogoane, T. (2001). No magic bullets, just tracer bullets: The role of learning resources, social advantage, and education management in improving the performance of South African schools. Social Dynamics, 27(1), 60-78.
  7. DBE. (2011).  Macro Indicators Trends. Pretoria: Department of Basic Education.
  8. Department of Basic Education. (2011). Report on the Annual National Assessments of 2011. Pretoria: Department of Basic Education.
  9. Department of Education. (2008). Grade 3 Systemic Evaluation 2007 Leaflet. Pretoria: Department of Education.
  10. Donalson, A. (1992). Content, Quality and Flexibility: The Economics of Education System Change. Spotlight 5/92. Johannesburg: South African Institute of Race Relations.
  11. Elmore, R. (2004a). Agency, Reciprocity, and Accountability in Democratic Education. Cambridge, MA: Consortium for Policy Research in Education.
  12. Elmore, R. (2008). Leadership as the practice of improvement. In OECD, Improving School Leadership. Volume 2: Case Studies on System Leadership (pp. 37-67). Paris: OECD Publishing.
  13. Fiske, E., & Ladd, H. (2004). Elusive Equity: Education Reform in Post-apartheid South Africa. Washington: Brookings Institution Press / HSRC Press.
  14. Fleisch, B. (2008). Primary Education in Crisis: Why South African schoolchildren underachieve in reading and mathematics. Cape Town. : Juta & Co.
  15. Gustafsson, M., & Mabogoane, T. (2010). South Africa’s economics of education: A stocktaking and an agenda for the way forward. Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers: 06/10.
  16. Hanushek, E., & Woessmann, L. (2008). The Role of Cognitive Skills in Economic Development. Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research Working Paper No. 07-34.
  17. Hoadley, U. (2010). What doe we know about teaching and learning in primary schools in South Africa? A review of the classroom-based research literature. Report for the Grade 3 Improvement project of the University of Stellenbosch. Western Cape Education Department.
  18. Hoadley, U., & Ward, C. (2009). Managing to Learn: Instructional Leadership on South African Secondary Schools. Cape Town: HSRC Press.
  19. Howie, S., Venter, E., Van Staden, S., Zimmerman, L., Long, C., Du Toit, C., et al. (2008). PIRLS 2006 Summary Report: South African Children’s Reading Literacy Achievement. Pretoria: Center for Evaluation and Assessment.
  20. Loveless, T. (2005). Test-Based Accountability: The Promise and the Perils. The Brookings Institution No. 8, 7-45.
  21. Macdonald, C. & Burroughs, E. Eager to talk and learn and think – Threshold Project.
  22. Moll, P. (1998). Primary schooling, cognitive skills, and wage in South Africa. Economica, 65(258), 263-284.
  23. Perry, H. 2003. Female Performance in the Senior Certificate Examination: Excellence Hiding Behind the Averages. EduSource Data News No. 29/May 2003.
  24. Pretorius, E. 2014. Supporting transition or playing catch-up in Grade 4? Implications for standards in education and training. Perspectives in Education. 32 (1), pp 51-76.
  25. Pretorius, E. 2018. Reading in the African languages: An annotated bibliography 2004-2017. DHET.
  26. Taylor, N. 1989. Falling at the First Hurdle: Initial encounters with the formal system of African education in South Africa. Research Report #1. EPU. (via JET Education).
  27. Taylor, N., Muller, J., & Vinjevold, P. (2003). Getting Schools Working. Cape Town: Pearson Education.
  28. Taylor, N., Fleisch, B., & Shindler, J. (2008). Changes in Education since 1994. Pretoria: The Presidency: Input into the 15 year review process.
  29. Taylor, S., & Von Fintel, M. (2016). Estimating the impact of language of instruction in South African primary schools: A fixed effects approach. Economics of Education Review. Vol 50. pp 75-89
  30. Van der Berg, S. (2007). Apartheid’s Enduring Legacy: Inequalities in Education. Journal of African Economies, 16(5), 849-880.
  31. Van der Berg, S. (2008). How effective are poor schools? Poverty and educational outcomes in South Africa. Centre for European, Governance and Economic Development Research (CEGE) Discussion Papers 69.
  32. Van der Berg, S., Burger, C., Burger, R., de Vos, M., du Rand, G., Gustafsson, M., Shepherd, D., Spaull, N., Taylor, S., van Broekhuizen, H., and von Fintel, D. (2011). Low quality education as a poverty trap. Stellenbosch: University of Stellenbosch, Department of Economics. Research report for the PSPPD project for Presidency.
  33. Yamauchi, F. (2011). School quality, clustering and government subsidy in post-aparteid South Africa. Economics of Education Review, 146-156.
  34. Prinsloo, C. & reddy, V. 2013. Educator leave in the South African public schooling system. HSRC Policy Brief
  35. Taylor, S. 2012. A note on matric results and trends. Research note (*Very useful)
  36. Shalem, Y. (2003). Do we have a theory of change? Calling change models to account. Perspectives in Education, 21(1), 29-49.

  37. Motala, S & Pampallis, J. (2001) Governance and financing in the South African Schooling System: The First Decade of Democracy. CEPD
  38. Woolman, S & Fleisch, B. 2009. The Constitution in the Classroom: Law and Education in South Africa 1994-2008. Pretoria University Law Press.

Some RESEP articles on education in South Africa:

  1. Gustafsson, M. (2012). The gap between school enrolments and population in South Africa: Analysis of the possible explanations. Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers WP 23/2012.
  2. Gustafsson, M. (2012). More countries, similar results. A nonlinear programming approach to normalising test scores needed for growth regressions. Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers WP 12/2012
  3. Gustafsson, M. & Taylor, S. (2013). Treating schools to a new administration. The impact of South Africa’s 2005 provincial boundary change on school performanceStellenbosch Economic Working Papers WP 28/2013.
  4. Shepherd, D. (2011). Constraints to School Effectiveness: What prevents poor schools from delivering results? Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers 05/11. [PIRLS]
  5. Spaull, N. (2011a). A Preliminary Analysis of SACMEQ III South Africa. Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers.
  6. Taylor, S. (2011). Uncovering indicators of effective school management in South Africa using the National School Effectiveness Study. Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers 10/11, 1-51. [NSES]
  7. Taylor, S., & Yu, D. (2009). The Importance of Socioeconomic Status in Determining Educational Achievement in South Africa. Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers.
  8. Taylor, S. & Coetzee, M. (2013) Estimating the impact of language of instruction in South African primary schools: A fixed effects approach. Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers WP 21/2013
  9. Van der Berg, S., & Louw, M. (2006). Lessons Learnt from SACMEQII: South African Student Performance in Regional Context. Investment Choices for Education in Africa. Johannesburg.
  10. Van der Berg, S, & Van Broekhuizen, H. (2012). Graduate unemployment in South Africa: A much exaggerated problemStellenbosch Economic Working Papers WP ss/2012.

Background to South Africa (economics):

  1. Leibbrandt, M., Wegner, E., & Finn, A. (2011). The Policies for Reducing Income Inequality and Poverty in South Africa. University of Cape Town. Cape Town: Southern Africa Labour and Development Reserch Unit Working Paper Number 64.
  2. Leibbrandt, M., Woolard, I., Finn, A., & Argent, J. (2010). Trends in South African income distribution and poverty since the fall of apartheid. Paris: OECD Publishing. (!)
  3. Nattrass, N., & Seekings, J. (2010). The Economy and Poverty in the Twentieth Century in South Africa. Centre for Social Science Research Working Paper No. 276. (!)
  4. Van der Berg, S. & Moses, E. (2012). How better targeting of social spending affects social delivery in South Africa.

Background to SACMEQ:

  1. Hungi, N., Makuwa, D., Ross, K., Saito, M., Dolata, S., van Capelle, F., et al. (2011). SACMEQ III Project Results: Levels and Trends in School Resources among SACMEQ School Systems. Paris: Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality.
  2. Hungi, N., Makuwa, D., Ross, K., Saito, M., Dolata, S., van Capelle, F., et al. (2011). SACMEQ III Project Results: Pupil achievement levels in reading and mathematics. Paris: Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality.
  3. Ross, K., Saito, M., Dolata, S., Ikeda, M., Zuze, L., Murimba, S., et al. (2005). The Conduct of the SACMEQ III Project. In E. Onsomu, J. Nzomo, & C. Obiero, The SACMEQ II Project in Kenya: A Study of the Conditions of Schooling and the Quality of Education. Harare: SACMEQ.
  4. Murimba, S. (2005) SACMEQ Mission, Approach and Projects. Prospects, vol. XXXV, no. 1, March 2005

Some other stuff

28 responses to “Educ research

  1. Fabulous Nic. I am so pleased you have put together a list of great readings for people out there (like me) who currently have no access to university library/online resources.

  2. Hi Nic. Thanks for giving access to your research. As an educator, the information is invaluable.

  3. Hi Daniel and Gabi – I’m glad that this collection of research is helpful to someone! Part of my aim in starting this website was to create a repository of useful education-type stuff.

  4. Hi Nic. Am so glad that I perused your page. What a wealth of current thinking. Thanks for the vision.

  5. Hi Nic
    Are independent schools obliged to implement affirmative action in admissions and employment policies?

  6. This blog represents one of the single most useful sites for anyone interested in education in South Africa. Good job Nic 🙂 Already said it in a previous post but thank you for making this available 🙂

  7. Just read your article in ‘Research SA’ (free access to wikipaedia via mobile phones, In addition, today’s free reader is more likely to become tomorrow’s (employed) customer! 🙂

  8. Read you articles and got enriched the more. Good job Nic!
    Jude Okechukwu Chukwu

  9. Pingback: Is South African School Education Beyond Hope? » KNYSNA SCHOOLS

  10. Nic, you are amazing. I am passionate about changing schools in difficult contexts. And your research is invaluable.

  11. Dear Nic

    I need to share some information with you but would like to discuss this in private. I will be in Stellenbosch round about the 20-22nd of January. How can I get hold of you? I will give a presentation for which I will use the ANA 2013 results. From this I think you get an idea of the kind of discussion I would like us to have if you would kindly agree. I am an ex-Foundation Phase teacher and I am currently a lecturer.

    • Dear Mariana, you can email me (NicholasSpaull[at] Where and what do you lecture? I will be at a conference the week of the 20th so I won’t be able to meet with you unfortunately but you can email me your presentation if you would like me to look at it. Kind regards, Nic

  12. Barry Booysen

    Hi Nick. I am a teacher in the rural free state.Your articles is of great help to us and thank you for making your research available.
    Barry Booysen

  13. nice article i love it

  14. HI Nic, The lik to this article: Venkatakrishnan, H. and Spaull, N. 2014. What do we know about primary teachers’ mathematical content knowledge in South Africa? An analysis of SACMEQ 2007. Stellenbosch Economic Working Papers 13/ broken. Please can you upload it or send it to me: Many thanks,

  15. Hi Nic
    I really need to have a meeting with you concerning Maths & Science teaching and learning in SA. Please make contact with me at:
    Many thanks
    John Bransby

  16. Hi Nic,
    Iam doing my PhD research proposal, my study is about The dynamics of school performance in South Africa. What kind of relevant literature should I consult this study?

  17. Great and detailed article indeed, I am glad your research extensively covered my country Botswana. I am currently running a Tutorial center for Primary and Secondary Syllabus in Rural areas in Botswana, providing remedial lessons in Maths and English. It would be great for us to hear more from you, either through seminars and workshops. How can we get hold of your presentations.
    Thanks a lot.

  18. Hi Nic, thank you for this information. We equip and employ people in the communities where the drop out rate from primary schools are very high to reintegrate these children back into the school and to support them with in-school services. The majority of the children that are dropping out is due to their social circumstances and relatively uneducated parents. If we can only show the more privilege communities the risk of not getting involved, 50% of our work will be done.

  19. Hi Nic, Thank you for the info in the research article ” South Africa’s Education in crisis” I must admit that I was ignorant to the SACMEQ and TIMSS facts and the dire situation that the country is in. I am presently studying my masters in education at Walden University specializing teacher leadership. We are currently discussing learning communities and networking as opportunity for teacher development. Your research shows the need for teacher development. Independent education in SA is trying to provide a higher quality in education, but unfortunately we know that this root is not possible for the vast majority of our learners. Would not teacher mentoring by teachers in independent education for teachers in public schools not be suitable? The possibility for networking and mentoring to teachers in the area/district could be made. I feel that as an independent school teacher I can ‘hold the hand’ and steer another colleague who teaches the same subject as I. I am part of a school-cluster, and we have included new teachers into the cluster for guidance. I see the advantage and practicality of such a system working here in SA. It could be done for teachers in public schools. Sending teachers out for further study is costly. Our government needs to seriously think of ways in getting those grade six results up.
    Rashika Singh

  20. Hi Nic

    Great fan of your work – absolutely awesome on such a relevant topic in our country right now.

    Nic, I require some advice and hope you can assist. I am currently employed in corporate – I have a BA in Communication Science and have completed my PMD at GIBS.

    I want to make a career change into into Education and become part of the solution. Problem is, I have no idea where to start?

    My specific areas of interests:

    Teenagers – they will soon be leaving school and entering tertiary or the working world and ensuring they are adequately equipped for this.
    Upskilling and providing the necessary levels of support to teachers
    Working with parents and encouraging active participation in their children’s education.

    Given your expertise in this area, what would you suggest I need to study or which doors do I need to knock on to start moving in my desired direction?

    Look forward to hearing from you.

    Thanks in advance Nic!

  21. Hi Dr Spaull, please confirm if you guys implemented the course for foundation phase teachers in getting reading right in South Africa?
    If so, please forward all relevant information on to

  22. Siyabonga Sthembiso Simon

    Hi Dr Spaull, I wish to express my gratitude to you and your academic partners for allowing free access to your great work. It is quite helpfull and accessible to us as Masters students for our research purposes. I would like to know if you have anything producess and shared on the Role and Impact of Performance Management Systems and Organization performance in schools or education.

  23. What a GREAT curated collection. Using it for papers at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Thanks for sharing this!

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