A capability analysis on the implementation of the school progression policy and its impact on learner performance
This paper focuses on the extent and consequences of learner progression in the form of ‘automatic
promotion’ or grade promotion for reasons other than academic achievement, as propagated by the
existing School Progression Policy (SPP) and how its implementation affects learner performance.
The paper argues that, although the advantages and disadvantages of grade retention and automatic
promotion, or the promotion of learners that do not possess the required content knowledge, are
highly contentious, the SPP produces numerous complexities and unfreedoms on learners when
examined through the lens of the Capabilities Approach (CA). Based on a study of three Quintile-1
(Q-1) primary schools in Cape Town, the paper argues that, although the SPP is ambitious and well
intentioned, critical implementation and monitoring challenges negatively reconfigures the
educational aspirations of primary school learners. The paper also reveals that the implementation
of the SPP imposes many unfreedoms for both learners and teachers in high poverty level areas.
The study revealed that the CA, despite its limitations in terms of conceptualisation, does provide a
unique framework to investigate real freedoms and unfreedoms of the SPP.
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