News & events


Hierarchical, horizontal and patronage governance of basic education in South Africa’s Western Cape and Eastern Cape

05 April 2017
12:30 - 14:00

Date: 05 April 2017  | Time:  12h30 – 14h00  | Venues: Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth

Presenter: Professor Brian Levy, Academic Director, Graduate School of Development Policy and Practice,  University of Cape Town

Chair: Professor Crain Soudien, CEO of the HSRC

Presentation is available for download below:

In South Africa, as elsewhere, access to education has increased radically but quality remains low, in part because of weaknesses in governance.  In this seminar, Professor  Brian Levy will  provide an overview of the results of  multi-disciplinary research on  the political and institutional drivers  of the performance of basic education in South Africa,  focusing on  results from the Western and Eastern Cape provinces.  Major findings include:
The Western Cape bureaucracy does well the core bureaucratic tasks of  managing resources – but  a  well-functioning bureaucracy does not provide a sufficient governance platform for achieving good  educational outcomes.  Some case study schools seemingly were compliant with formal processes, but in practice were locked into a low-level equilibrium of mediocrity.

Horizontal governance emerged as a partial substitutes for bureaucratic weaknesses.  Though predatory capture is common, pro-active engagement by school governing bodies and parents helped sustain performance in some Eastern Cape case study schools, and turn around dysfunction in others.

Bureaucratic reform requires difficult-to-achieve supportive political circumstances.  The results point to the potential for complementary interventions which tilt school-level governance dynamics in a developmental direction.

The HSRC seminar series is funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST). The views and opinions expressed therein  as well as findings and statements of the seminar series do not necessarily represent the views of DST.

Kindly RSVP by 17 March2017

Cape Town : HSRC, 116-118 Merchant House, Buitengracht Street, Cape Town. Contact: Carmen August ,Tel (021) 4668004, Fax (021) 461 0299 or e-mail:

Durban :  The Atrium, 5th Floor, 430 Peter Mokaba Ridge, Berea, 4001 , Contact: Ridhwaan Khan, Tel (031) 242 5400, cell: 083 788 2786 or email: , or Hlengiwe Zulu at e-mail

Pretoria : HSRC Video Conference, 1st floor HSRC Library Human Sciences Research Council, 134 Pretorius Street, Pretoria. Arlene Grossberg, Tel: (012) 302 2811 or e-mail:

Port Elizabeth : Office 103, 1st  floor, Fairview Office Park, Greenacres, Port Elizabeth. Nomfanelo Plaatjie E-mail: