The purpose of assigning a child a quintile is because we want to have an indication of the children’s socio-economic background. This enables us to compare the child’s performance on the ELOM with children from a similar background using the Quintile 1 – Quintile 5 reference groups.

When the ELOM was developed, the children we assessed were in Grade R. We decided to use the quintile assigned to the school by the Department of Basic Education as a proxy for the socio-economic status (SES) of each child, as we did not have the resources to measure the SES of each child’s household. The quintiles used by the department are based on the demographics of the school catchment area. We recognise that this is a rough measure and works better for children who attend schools in areas similar to those in which they reside. For poor children who migrate to schools in better off areas, it is not a valid proxy.

When children are not yet in the school system, organisations and research teams have a challenge when estimating the SES of their children using the quintiles. This is not a problem if you do not want to compare programme children with the ELOM reference groups and are simply interested in where their scores fall on the distribution. It becomes a problem when you want to compare the child’s performance on the ELOM with children from a similar background  – the Reference Group.

When children are not yet in school, we need to have a reliable proxy indicator of the child’s level of poverty / wealth which is not reliant on a household interview and permits use of the Reference Groups.

We are working on this issue. For now, here are our recommendations for an approach to this challenge:

  1. Ensure that you capture the location of the testing venue/site with the GPSon your tablet while you assess. Often it is easier to do this outside, and accuracy to 100m should be adequate. This will allow us to do some background checks should anomalies and queries emerge.
  2. Establish the name of the school normally attended by children in your  If the programme is away from the area where children reside, establish the name of the primary school in the area where the majority of children in the programme reside. The assessor needs to ask the service provider for the name of this primary school when collecting the data and enter the name on the tablet.
  3. Only if you have confirmation of this primary school’s quintile ranking, please write the quintile into the tablet. There are a few ways of checking this. skools.co.zais an excellent resource into which you type the name of the school (accurate spelling is important), the location to which it is near, and it normally can find this school, its quintile ranking and telephone number for you. You may wish to call the school and confirm this ranking directly with them. You can also download the provincial lists of no fee schools (Quintiles 1-3 only) here https://www.education.gov.za/Parents/NoFeeSchools/tabid/408/Default.aspx, and look through the relevant pdf documents for the school.

As noted above, children may attend schools outside the area where they reside, and therefore the quintile ranking of those schools may not be a good proxy for home background or area of residence. We are working on a process of solving this conundrum, and further steps for wealth classification are being explored.