What is the potential systemic impact of PSP?
When implemented effectively, PSP can also help address the challenges in the system in the following ways:
…Help to bridge the quality divide
PSPs could help bridge the quality divide by increasing the proportion of government schools that are able to deliver quality education. If recognised as part of the government system, it could contribute to overall school improvement through knock-on systems of best practice.
…Harness and concentrate available but untapped managerial resources for underperforming schools
The value of PSP would be to harness strong managerial resources that currently reside outside of the public education system, and concentrate those resources in underperforming schools and in schools serving marginalised communities.
…Help to realign the basic education system with its constitutional and legal mandate
In order for these gains to be fully realised, there is a need to realign the organisation of the education system, so that the main distinction is between government ensuring the provision of a public good (either through direct service delivery or financing) and privately provided education services (where wealthier parents and/or a third party pays the full cost). Simply put, any school receiving government funding should be viewed as a government school – regardless of the degree of devolution of management authority.
…Establish an institutional mechanism for greater equity in education
Given the polarised income distribution in South Africa, independent schools that are not state-subsidised effectively target children of families in quintiles three, four and five, and not the poorest 40% of children.
Over time, the perception that state schools are only for the poor who cannot afford it will be reinforced, unless there is a shift in the provision of education to children in quintiles one and two.
If PSP targeted children in the poorest three quintiles of the population (i.e. with some overlap to prevent stigmatisation and ensure a continuum of good quality schooling across all quintiles), they could be an important mechanism for achieving greater equity in educational outcomes.
Collaboration schools within the law and our best option. By WC Education MEC, Debbie Schäfer, published by the Cape Times, 15 November 2017.
Collaboration Schools – concentrating energy and expertise in the poorest public schools, by DGMT CEO, David Harrison (First published in the Daily Maverick on 20 October 2016).
How can Public School Partnerships be sustained?
The biggest route to sustainability will be the costs saved in having far fewer children repeat grades. In one school alone, these costs to the Education Department were estimated at R40 million! If this wastage could be stopped, there will be far more money available to improve the quality of education.
There are other long-term funding possibilities. For example, all private companies in South Africa have statutory obligations to commit funding to socio-economic development. This model provides a way of ensuring that these funds are used effectively and well monitored.