Data Analytics


We are strengthening state capacity to leverage data analytics to pass laws and policies that reduce poverty and inequality and to embrace a culture of data based decision-making. The focus is assessing and predicting the likely social justice impact of planned policies, legislation and plans as well as those already in operation.

To this end, we are developing Social Justice Impact Assessment Tools (SJIAT). These tools principally focus on poverty and social inclusion, relating to the following grounds:

Socio-economic Status
Sexual Orientation and Gender Fluidity
Rural/Urban divide

The process

In using this tool, policy makers will be assisted to implement planned policies in the virtual space without adversely impacting society. Where the social impact assessment shows a likely disparate impact on certain group, which is unintended and inimical to the achievement of equality as envisaged in the constitution, it can then be decided whether the policy should be abandoned, adjusted or to introduce a compensation strategy to mitigate the adverse impact.

Action items

  • Research that summarises the existence of similar analytical tools globally, identifying gaps and outlining the key design considerations for the social justice analytical tools to be designed under the project.
  • The comparison should look at things like:
    1. What is the instrument for? For example, both SEIAS and our Social Justice Impact Assessment Framework are meant to predict the likely social impact of a policy before it’s implemented. This will serve to warn policy-makers of likely unintended deleterious consequences on certain groups in society.
    2. What is the main content? Does the instrument predict the likely social justice impact or is it doing more or less?
    3. What is the scope of application? The instrument may be for an inimical region, for example the OECD, a country or for an institution. The substance scope may be limited to one sector for example, health, as in the case of the Yale approach or may have a transversal reach, such as is the case with SEIAS.
    4. Who is it intended for? Is it every policy and legislation-maker or plan-designer as ours is intended for or is it for a separate impact assessment unit that assessed afterwards?
    5. At what point is the instrument employed? Is it employed before the legislation or policy goes to sign-off authorities such as Parliament, or before a policy or law or plan is approved?
    6. Is the analysis quantitative or qualitative: Does the instrument primarily use data analytics to predict the likely impact of a policy, law or plan as ours is intended to. If so, how is public participation or potential user/public input sourced and integrated.
    7. How is the Analysis done? Is it automated as we intend ours ( incorporates algorithms) or is the work gone manually or partly automated and manual?
  • Data compilation with an emphasis on data disaggregated in terms of race, gender, disability, spatial disparities and other social justice concerns. Instruction: Prepare a matrix on the following categories of social justice: (i) Race, (ii) Gender, (iii) Disability, (iv) LGBTQI, (v) Class, (vi) Rural versus Urban, (vii) Nationality. The purpose of this matrix is to:
    1. determine the disparate impact/unintended consequences of a policy;
    2. test who has been excluded unintentionally from the allocation of accommodation on campus by adding values that are irrational as far as accommodation is concerned and that does not add to the equality and human dignity of our students;
    3. show the statistical impact of the unrevised policy;
    4. help policy-designers to measure new unimplemented policies against this tool before finalization;
    5. determine the impact in the virtual world before it is too late
    Theory of change:
    1. Based on these findings, the new policy can be assessed against the same test in order to discern if and to what extent there is a disparate social impact.
    2. Our theory of change does not presume to exclude other solutions.
    3. It aims to add data analytics to existing tools so that qualitative data still needs to be accessed.
    4. The consequences within 1/2/5/10 years can thus be accessed.
    5. When this has been achieved, it can be decided:
      1. Whether the policy needs to be give a complete overhaul/redrafted;
      2. Adjusted; or
      3. To make amends to those that are excluded unintentionally.
  • Coordinate the social impact assessment of selected pilot policies, currently identified as the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment Act, South African Schools Act, Health and Nutrition Policy frameworks and Land and Property policies (establish who has been doing impact assesment of any of these Acts/policies).
  • Design a poverty and inequality map and encourage social justice championship that has targeted the poorest areas on it.

Get started

Contact us for further information.

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About the Chair:

Professor Thulisile “Thuli” Madonsela, an advocate of the High Court of South Africa, heads the Centre for Social Justice and is a law professor at the University of Stellenbosch, where she conducts and coordinates social justice research and teaches constitutional and administrative law.

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