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Policy Brief 6 - Managing the Fiscal Implications of Learner Mobility through Better Planning and Budgeting

The urban development pattern in South Africa is changing from one characterised by the movement of only job-seeking adults to urban centres to one which involves the movement of school-going children across local boundaries to schools in different urban settings. Open school choice policies enable parents and learners to vote with their feet in search of better education. These movements affect the overall functioning of the schooling system from the perspective of planning and funding, for both the sending and receiving areas. Accordingly, this research evaluates the extent to which education fiscal transfers are affected by, or responsive to, the urban transformation process, and the efficacy of provincial planning processes in addressing education delivery challenges introduced by urbanisation. The findings suggest that in managing learner mobility provinces need not only focus on the budgetary implications, but also invest in long-term planning tools that account for spatial demographic shifts and development plans.
In particular, the study recommends a need for education infrastructure transfers, and their investment within provincial boundaries, to be sensitive to learner mobility patterns in terms of location and age structure.

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