Data practices and inequality in South African early childhood development policy : Technocratic management versus social transformation
Rudolph, N., Millei, Z., & Alasuutari, M. (2019). Data practices and inequality in South African early childhood development policy : Technocratic management versus social transformation. South African Journal of Childhood Education, 9(1), Article a756. https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v9i1.756
Published inSouth African Journal of Childhood Education
© The Authors, 2019
Background: In 1994, the African National Congress identified early childhood development as a potential strategy to redress the inequalities of apartheid, however, two and a half decades later, poverty still persists, and South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world. Aim: This article explores how policy texts based on and with the use of certain data practices establish ‘truths’ about childhoods and society, construct families and communities, and determine forms of provision to address inequality. Setting: In 2015, the South African government published the National Integrated Early Childhood Policy (NIECDP) to continue to address poverty and inequality. Its implementation increasingly draws on data practices that measure and inform solutions. The use of data practices, while also providing needed information, prioritises solutions that proceed in technocratic ways instead of facilitating social change. Methods: With a critical discourse analysis of policy texts and the introduction of alternatives, the analysis seeks to highlight the power and knowledge hierarchies that construct the policies of NIECDP. Results: This article demonstrates how discourses and data practices prioritise ‘the government of poverty’ instead of helping to eliminate it and silence the voices of those living with poverty. This form of government through data also undermines the policy’s potential to respond to the different life chances resulting from the diverse conditions in which young children live in South Africa. Conclusion: This article seeks to re-open a debate that the NIECDP successfully silenced, specifically who benefits, who speaks and who is silenced. ...
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Additional information about fundingThe first author received a scholarship from the University of Jyväskylä during part of the period of work on the article. This article was published with financial support from the Department of Higher Education and Training, South Africa, through a grant from the Centre of Education Practice Research at the University of Johannesburg.
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