Researching the politics of development



Leadership, stakeholders and learner performance in four Western Cape schools

Working paper 61

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Ursula Hoadley, Brian Levy, Lawule Shumane and Shelly Wilburn
This paper explores some micro-level governance and political economy
determinants of performance over time in four schools in low-income areas in the
Cape Town metropolitan area. The findings are consistent with a pattern evident in
many parts of the world – the reality of dysfunction beneath the surface of seemingly
well-organised bureaucratic processes. They are also consistent with broader
research, which points to the weakness – in the specific Western Cape demographic
profile, which is the focus – of constructive input from school governing bodies,
communities or other non-governmental actors. As a way forward, the paper
proposes pragmatism and incrementalism – relatively modest tweaks capable of
achieving seemingly small (but potentially far-reaching in their consequences)
improvements in the functioning at school level of both hierarchical and horizontal
systems of governance.