Theory and practice of the quintile ranking of schools in South Africa: A financial management perspective
Equitable funding of public schools to reduce the disparities in education inherited by the post-apartheid government of South Africa in 1994 has become a priority. The Amended National Norms and Standards for School Funding (ANNSSF) required the ranking of schools into one of five quintiles of which Quintile 1 represents the poorest schools and Quintile 5 the most affluent. This amendment determines that schools serving impoverished communities should receive more funding. However, challenges exist regarding the implementation of the system, as well as the calculation base for maintenance allocation. In this study we used semi-structured interviews to collect data from 24 respondents from urban and township schools in Gauteng. Participants were selected by means of purposive sampling. Permission to conduct the research was obtained from the Gauteng Department of Education, the university’s Ethics Committee and the school governing bodies. We handled financial information from schools with utmost confidentiality. We identified themes from interview transcriptions and we analysed schools’ financial statements. The main findings relate to inaccuracies in quintile ranking, which result in inadequate and unfair school funding, which impact on schools’ maintenance and learning and teaching. It is recommended that a more holistic approach should be followed to achieve equity in education.
Keywords: disparity; education funding; no-fee schools; poverty score; quintile ranking; school fee exemption formula