Title page for ETD etd-04262010-152443

Document Type Doctoral Thesis
Author Mashele, Elijah Phukwana
Email elijah12@telkomsa.net
URN etd-04262010-152443
Document Title The transition from districts to regions : a case study of restructuring in a provincial education department of South Africa
Degree PhD
Department Education Management and Policy Studies
Advisor Name Title
Prof M T Sehoole Supervisor
  • decentralization
  • curriculum implementers
  • power and authority
  • centralization
  • district
  • circuit
  • region
  • shift
  • alignment
  • amalgamation
  • school support
Date 2010-04-13
Availability unrestricted
The birth of a new South Africa in 1994 necessitated various reforms in education, and like in many other countries, decentralization was imperative in order to address, among other issues, the undemocratic governance practices and inequalities of the former apartheid educational system. This study interrogates the establishment of districts and circuits in Mpumalanga as nodes of service delivery, immediately after South Africa’s first democratic elections in 1994. It also focuses on their demise in 2001 and the birth of regions.

The study investigates the rationale behind these processes that took place in Mpumalanga, through posing three main research questions:

1. Which decentralization model(s) informed the formation of districts and circuits in the Mpumalanga Department of Education?

2. What circumstances led to the dismantling of districts and their amalgamation into regions?

3. What has been the effect of this shift on service delivery in circuits and schools? (Did it lead to an improvement or decline in service delivery, education governance in the province, effectiveness and efficiency?)

The methodology used in this study is the qualitative framework. The qualitative research approach is appropriate for investigating the rationale behind the shift from the district structure to the regional structure in Mpumalanga, with the Ehlanzeni region as a case study. This phenomenon can be best understood by using a qualitative approach to investigate how those involved conceptualized and experienced the whole process. The data collection method is face-to-face, unstructured, in-depth interviews.

The study argues that the shift from districts to regions in Mpumalanga is the result of inadequacies in the district structure which caused districts to fail. These inadequacies filtered down to the performance of roles and responsibilities which led to the demise of districts and their amalgamation into regions, which were given more powers and resources in order to fulfill their mandate.

This study uses Samoff’s (1990) decentralization typologies as a lens through which the establishment of districts and circuits, their demise, and the reorganization into regions can be conceptualized. This study found that districts and circuits were established in line with the government’s principle of taking government to the people; in that they were closer to the people they served. Districts and circuits were field offices that were strategically established to assist the province in delivering services to the people as well as encouraging community participation in education.

Districts and circuits failed to perform their roles and responsibilities as expected, due to lack of power and authority, resources (physical; human and financial), capacity, coordination and financial support. This led to their restructuring into regions in order to reduce costs, consolidate expertise, provide resources, and grant more powers for them to perform well and achieve efficacy. This study contributes to the body of literature and understanding of the ramifications of decentralization.

© 2009 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Mashele, EP 2009, The transition from districts to regions : a case study of restructuring in a provincial education department of South Africa, PhD thesis, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-04262010-152443/ >


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