SA Journal of Education, Vol 39, No 4 (2019)

Structure and agency: Clash or complement towards quality public education within the South African legislative framework?

Nontsha Liwane, JP Rossouw


In the current South African society, characterised by typical neo-liberal market-driven priorities also forced upon the education sector, the search for quality education needs careful consideration. This search has taken a prominent focus in robust academic, public, political, and school governance debates in South Africa for the past 2 decades. Officials of the Department of Basic Education (DBE) admit that, despite noteworthy efforts, it fails in providing quality education for all learners. Key stakeholders in education neglect their professional duties. This paper investigates factors related to (dominating) structure and (a lack of) agency that might be deterrents to attainment of quality education. Bureaucratic and labour structures often deny professional educators their agency. The central question is what the nature of the impact, if any, of the conflicting powers of structure and agency is on quality public education. It was found that the conflict between structure and agency often have a negative effect on the delivery of quality education but that the advantages of both structure and agency, once reconciled, might lead to the improvement of the delivery of quality education in South Africa.

ORCiD iDs of authors:
Nontsha Liwane -
JP Rossouw -

Cited by: 1

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