Comparing data tells a story about the unusual birth surge in 2004
Greater access to antiretrovirals seen as the leading candidate to explain a phenomenon still being researched
It is clear that something remarkable happened to SA’s births around 2004. What led to this discovery reveals important improvements in the ways social data have become available in the country. Starting in 2011, education analysts started noticing sharp increases in the number of children entering primary school after at least five years of steady decline. From 2010 to 2013 Grade 1 enrolments rose 13%, or just more than 100,000 children. These figures refer to all schools, public or independent. The wave moved up the primary grades, reaching Grade 7, the last primary grade, in 2017. Class sizes increased, and resources became a little more stretched. The increases confounded planners. Concern was raised about the possibility that schools and provinces were creating "ghost pupils" to attract more funding. But how could this happen across virtually the entire country at the same time? Had there not been a second, completely separate, data source to confirm what was seen in the enrolm...