Picture: THE TIMES
Picture: THE TIMES

Doug Blackmur usefully draws attention to the fact that the Resep research agenda is indeed imitative of an international trend among certain education economists to argue that resources do not matter (Does funding help? May 10).

As a general rule, South African academic economists and policy makers are at least a decade behind the curve, hence the recent zeal for randomised trials locally, while internationally the proponents of these methods are back-pedalling in the face of detailed and substantive criticism (to which I have contributed using education as an example).

My views are actually more compatible with the methodological discussion in the paper by Eric Hanushek that Blackmur cites than Hanushek’s more cited work, but a full academic exposition will have to be published elsewhere.

For the moment, I invite Blackmur to extricate himself from the notion that we ought to rely on an economist sitting behind a desk to come up with universal laws of education: rather apply simple logic and consider the corollary of the claim that resources don’t matter.

Should public and private schools fire most of their teachers and have class sizes of hundreds with one teacher at the front with a megaphone?

Given the massive savings to be had, it is surely rather a puzzle that no one has done this and that the historical trajectory in now-developed countries has been in the opposite direction.

Dr Seán Muller
Via e-mail

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