Tracking the money for Open Educational Resources in South African basic education: What we don't know
This study aims to develop an understanding of government funding allocated to educational resources in basic education in South Africa. Linked to claims about potential cost savings associated with using Open Educational Resources (OER),
The main intention was to establish a benchmark of public spending on educational resources in order to be able to ascertain the economic benefits of using OER. As such, the following research questions are considered: How much public money is currently being spent on educational materials in basic education in South Africa? How much public money is currently being spent on OER in basic education in South Africa? Do OER represent a cost reduction with regard to educational resource acquisition in basic education in South Africa?
The study is comprised of a desk review and document analysis of publicly available information on expenditure in South African basic education. This approach was adopted in order to develop a conceptual understanding of South African government funding allocation for general educational resources as well as OER.
The findings highlight the fact that individual provinces, rather than central government, have the authority to determine budget allocations for the procurement and delivery of what are termed Learning and Teaching Support Materials (LTSM).
Although each provincial Department of Education budget includes a line item for LTSM, these are not sufficiently disaggregated to determine the actual expenditure on specific categories, such as textbooks, in order to establish a benchmark for potential cost savings of OER. The findings also illustrate a possible cost-recovery model based on the local Siyavula open textbook initiative.
In order to make claims about OER and their cost-saving potential in the South African education system, national and provincial government budgets will need to be disaggregated to a more granular level and made more readily available for in-depth investigation of budgetary allocations.