Review: the challenge of South African schooling: dimensions, targets and initiatives
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The crisis in South African schooling is not new. It predates the achievement of democracy in 1994 and has been an ongoing refrain in public discourse since 1994. What is new is the emerging consensus on its dimensions and causes. Since the 1990s, both the government and donors have invested substantial resources in understanding what exactly the problems may be. The government has not been slow to respond to such findings, but in the welter of everyday crisis talk, these responses have gone largely unnoticed and are rarely analysed and discussed. The resulting public debate is the poorer for it. It is important to analyse these directions, however, and to understand them, as they form part of a wider palimpsest of debates and approaches not only in South Africa but also globally. The crisis discourse surrounding education and the policy approaches adopted locally resonate with international debates. The discourse is one of comparative learning performance and what to do about it. This article accordingly
considers what some of the research informing government thinking shows on the dimensions and causes of the education
quality challenge, what the government is doing about it, how it fits into broader international debates and what it means.