The school day in South Africa

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Martin Wittenberg

School of Economics

University of Cape Town



We investigate the time allocation decisions by South African learners using the South African Time Use Survey. We show that punctuality appears to be a problem with around 20% of all learners seeming to arrive late. Punctuality and absenteeism seem to be problems disproportionately among poor learners.


Overall time devoted to schooling and homework does not show a consistent income gradient. Poor learners, however, spend considerable time each day on chores. The distribution of this additional work falls disproportionately on girls.


Some of the findings can be easily explained in terms of a simple human capital production frame- work, but some of the social constraints seem to require a broader framework in which choices by some individuals create externalities for others.