Developing a framework for education policy analysis : the case of the Western Cape's textbook procurement policy

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

This study develops a conceptual framework for policy analysis and uses it as the basis for an analytical framework to describe the Western Cape's textbook procurement policy (WCTPP). The study starts by defining policy as a purposeful intervention with key attributes, these being: intention; action; practice; status; resources and capacity; and power. The conceptual framework attempts to answer the question, "Are there features which consistently characterise the policy-making process and do the factors which gave shape to policy consistently fall into particular categories?" The framework suggests factors which shape, locate and give rise to policy can be described in terms of contexts and frames which denote arenas within which policy can be constrained or enabled, politically and practically. The key contexts necessary for policy analysis are spatial and historical and the key frames are the frame of discourses of state, the resources/ capacity frame and the legislative/ regulatory frame. The key features characterising policy are that policy-making is characterised by fluidity and that policy is the expression of a balance or a compromise of interests. The framework is then used to develop an analytic framework for the WCTPP. The analysis attempts to answer the question, "What are the key features of this policy and what factors have shaped its emergence?" The analysis suggests that as the WCTPP was conceived, developed and translated into practice within the province, it has a coherence not always possible within an education system characterised by national/ provincial policy fragmentation. As a policy, it is shaped by the relatively well-resourced province from which it emerges. The analysis shows that resources and capacity are a factor at all the sites (department private sector suppliers and schools) involved in the state-private sector partnership that is exemplified in this policy. This policy is given form by the selective recruitment of divergent discourse of the state with two key discourses being manifest, these being that of a democratic, developmental state which sets parameters to and regulates the private sector, and a neo-liberal state, which supports free market forces. Through the legislative/regulatory frame the analysis also shows the inter-dependence of the WCTPP and other policies. The key features which characterise policy-making are portrayed as its on-going nature, and the fact that this policy represents a fragile balancing of competing interests. Educational interests harness commercial interests for educational ends. The analysis allows for a description of the policy that expresses both its functionality and its fragility. The study concludes that the framework developed provides for a dynamic iteration thus illustrating that policy analysis requires an understanding of how policy develops out of the interplay between the contexts, frames and features identified.

Bibliography: pages 105-109.