News & events


Smooth, staggered or stopped? Educational transitions in the South African Youth Panel Study

22 August 2016
12:30 - 13:30

Date:        22 August 2016 
Time:       12:30  – 13:30
Venue:    VCRs, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban


Dr Kathryn Isdale
Director, QER Consulting

Understanding educational transitions is vital to addressing basic skills shortages and improving the life chances of all South African learners. This presentation draws on findings from the South African Youth Panel study (SAYPS), a longitudinal panel study which started in 2011 and followed grade 9 learners annually for five years. The findings provide new insights about different educational transitions experienced by South African youth.

Learners follow one of four educational pathways: Forty-seven per cent follow a smooth pathway, progressing through secondary school without interruption; a further 40% follow a staggered pathway where advancement is marked by at least one interruption. An additional 7% remain stuck in grade 9 or 10, and a final 7% leave school shortly after grade 9 and do not return.

Our findings confirm many predictable explanations: Learners with a smooth transition tend to have more highly educated parents, perform better in mathematics and science assessments, and attend better-off schools. But there are also findings that are new, highlighting that it is possible to succeed academically despite disadvantage. We look beyond the predictable pattern of advantage and ‘achievement begetting achievement’ and examine the evidence of young people succeeding despite the odds.

The presentation is based on the forthcoming report by Kathryn Isdale, Vijay Reddy, Lolita Winnaar and Linda Zuze (2016); Smooth, Staggered or Sopped: Educational Transitions in the South African Youth Panel Study. An LMIP Publication: Human Sciences Research Council.

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 21 August 2016

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