Platinum & Passes: The Impact of Mining Investments on Education Outcomes in South Africa

Image: Flickr, CIFOR
Image: Flickr, CIFOR

Platinum mining is a major engine of South Africa’s economy, producing exports and generating employment for many South Africans. It is, however, highly dependent on skilled labour, engineers and technicians, who are drawn from the limited pool of graduates that are emerging from the weak South African schooling system. Public-private partnerships have been established in an attempt to address this gap.

This study looks at the delivery, effectiveness and impact of the ZAR1 100 million (about $14 million) Anglo American Platinum education programme implemented in the Limpopo and North West provinces to improve learning outcomes in public schools, particularly in the critical subjects of maths and science.

The study utilises a rich pool of data and combines qualitative, econometric, meta-analytical and quasi-experimental methods of evaluation, while engaging several institutions and stakeholders in the process. The research reveals some surprising findings with regard to the effect that mines have on the learning results in surrounding schools and affected communities. While the study re-affirms many current theories and raises new questions with regard to the critical role of educators, the impact of interventions, socio-economic factors, and other aspects affecting the school system. Moreover, the report illustrates some of the problems and shortfalls of development evaluation practices.

The findings provide useful inputs for the policies, programmes and investments of the government and corporate sector in addressing education and development challenges in South Africa.

22 May 2014