A1 Journal article (refereed)
Data practices and inequality in South African early childhood development policy : Technocratic management versus social transformation (2019)

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

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editorsRudolph, Norma; Millei, Zsuzsanna; Alasuutari, Maarit

Journal or seriesSouth African Journal of Childhood Education



Publication year2019


Issue number1

Article numbera756

PublisherAOSIS Publishing

Publication countrySouth Africa

Publication languageEnglish


Publication open accessOpenly available

Publication channel open accessOpen Access channel

Publication is parallel published (JYX)https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/65956

Additional informationCorrigendum: Data practices and inequality in South African early childhood development policy: Technocratic management versus social transformation
Norma Rudolph, Zsanna Millei, Maarit Alasuutari
South African Journal of Childhood Education | Vol 9, No 1 | a834 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajce.v9i1.834
130120 MaL


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.

Keywordsearly childhood education and carepovertyinequalityequality (values)social justicepower structuresapartheideducation policytechnocracy

Free keywordsdata practices; policy analysis; South Africa; early childhood; social justice

Contributing organizations

Ministry reportingYes

Reporting Year2019

JUFO rating1

Last updated on 2024-08-01 at 18:01