The no-fee schools policy: a case study of policy implementation in four KwaZulu-Natal schools.
Education under the apartheid system was governed by the notion of separate development for each race. After the democratic elections in 1994, education policy has undergone numerous changes. The current Department of Education (DoE) is tasked with the responsibility of ensuring quality education to both advantaged and disadvantaged schools in order to eradicate the inequality fostered by the education policies of the apartheid regime. The inability of parents to pay for school fees was identified as the key determinant in access to schooling. So, although access to equal standards of education was theoretically equal, not all eligible children were attending school. To remedy this situation the Department of Education presented a broad policy statement in which it pledged to provide free education to those who could not afford school fees. This became part of the Education Laws Amendment Bill (2004) and is referred to as the no-fee schools policy. The no-fee schools policy was introduced in 2006 and is currently implemented at approximately 14 000 schools (Department of Education, 2006). Newspaper articles such as"Schools Run Out of Money" which appeared in the Mail and Guardian (13 May 2007) suggest that the no-fee schools are experiencing implementation problems. The aim of this study is to determine why this is so. This aim was achieved by firstly examining the literature on policy, policy implementation and street-level bureaucrats by consulting secondary sources such as Lipsky (1980) who examines public service workers, Parsons (1995) and Pressman and Wildavsky (1983) who examined a number of factors that influence policy implementation. Secondly, the policy framework for education in South Africa was then determined by analysing government legislation. Thirdly, primary data was collected from four schools in the Ukhahlamba region in KwaZulu-Natal that have been categorised by the Department of Education as no-fee schools. The primary data was then analysed by: (a) looking for references to the theoretical concepts discussed and (b) determining the degree of congruence between the legislative framework and the manner in which the policy is being implemented. The main finding of this research project was that schools do not posses the necessary capacity to implement the no-fee policy in its current form.