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School progression, school choice and travel to school amongst urban South African secondary school learners

  • Start date: 01 June 2011
  • End date: 31 March 2013

This project seeks to understand to what extent urban South African pupils engage in school choice, how far they travel to school, and which children travel to schools far from home. The project will provide information about the investments of time, effort and money that families make to access higher quality educational opportunities. It will also help with understanding how children from different backgrounds have different levels of access to educational opportunities, and how this influences segregation on the basis of race and class.

We will use data from the Birth to Twenty cohort study, which has followed over 2,000 children born in the Soweto-Johannesburg metropolitan area of South Africa since 1990. Combined with information on a wide range of topics, including health, education and family circumstances, we can determine how far each child travelled to reach their school during each school year, as well as whether they were attending their nearest school or not. The project will shed light in the distribution of opportunities for schooling across a rapidly changing society and contribute to a better understanding of the implications of school choice in the developing world. These findings are of relevance to researchers and policy makers alike.