A capability analysis on the implementation of the school progression policy and its impact on learner performance
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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.