Children's daily travel to school in Johannesburg-Soweto, South Africa: geography and school choice in the Birth to Twenty cohort study

Julia de Kadt*, Shane Norris, Brahm Fleisch, Linda Richter, Seraphim Alvanides

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This paper has two aims: to explore approaches to the measurement of children’s daily travel to school in a context of limited geospatial data availability, and to provide data regarding school choice and distance travelled to school in Soweto-Johannesburg, South Africa. The paper makes use of data from the Birth to Twenty cohort study (n=1428) to explore three different approaches to estimating school choice and travel to school. Firstly, straight-line distance between home and school is calculated. Secondly, census geography is used to determine whether a child's home and school fall in the same area. Thirdly, distance data are used to determine whether a child attends the nearest school. Each of these approaches highlights a different aspect of mobility, and all provide valuable data. Overall, primary school aged children in Soweto-Johannesburg are shown to be travelling substantial distances to school on a daily basis. Over a third travel more than 3km, one-way, to school, 60% attend schools outside of the suburb in which they live, and only 18% attend their nearest school. These data provide evidence for high levels of school choice in Johannesburg-Soweto, and that families and children are making substantial investments in pursuit of high quality educational opportunities. Additionally, these data suggest that two patterns of school choice are evident: one pattern involving travel of substantial distances and requiring a higher level of financial investment, and a second pattern, involving choice between more local schools, requiring less travel and a more limited financial investment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-177
Number of pages20
JournalChildren's Geographies
Volume12
Issue number2
Early online date17 Jul 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2014

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