A decision support system, using data envelopment analysis, to evaluate the efficiency of schools in the North West Province of South Africa
The South African school system is governed by the South African School Act 84 of 1996. Despite sufficient laws and regulations and what seems sufficient to be a proper school management system, there is a major and ongoing problem in terms of the efficiency and effectiveness of schools. This is evidenced by a large number of studies and research reports that confirm the general lack of appropriate school management and monitoring techniques. To address the problem of a proper assessment technique that can be used to evaluate schools, this study proposes the development of a decision support system (DSS) based on mathematical programming techniques to assist decision makers in the field of education with school efficiency assessments. The mathematical models implemented are based on the well-known data envelopment analysis (DEA) techniques. A standard DEA model (based on input and output variables) was implemented as well as a class ranking model that utilises only output variables and that enables the implementation of Pareto optimal principles. The DSS and the implemented models were applied to real world data pertaining to 54 secondary schools in the North-West province of South Africa. The study has shown that the adapted output model (which utilises the Pareto optimal principle) delivers more reliable and more useful results than the traditional DEA models. A significant strength of the proposed output only model is the construction of intermediate goals that will enable an inefficient school to progress step by step over a period of time. This is in contrast with the traditional DEA models that set targets to become immediately as effective as the top rated schools – something that is impractical as schools often do not have the resources for such a huge improvement over a short to medium term.
- Engineering