Stellenbosch Working Paper Series No. WP20/2013

Abstract
The “bimodal” pattern of performance observed in South Africa illustrates the
persistence with which learners of former Black schools continue to lag behind
their “advantaged” counterparts. It is posited that the poor functioning of former
Black schools accounts for this result. A nationally representative dataset of grade
5 learners and counterfactual distribution and decomposition techniques are
adopted to identify the part of the performance gap that may be explained by
differences in (i) the returns structure and (ii) school characteristics composition.
The former is found to be 18.9 percent of the average gap and increases
significantly over the outcome distribution.

Keywords
bimodal performance, effectiveness, decomposition, South Africa
JEL classification
C31, I21, I25

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