There are certain factors to consider regarding President Jacob Zuma’s plan for tertiary education to be subsidised for about 90% of households from 2018. While it will have given hope for many who had previously been unable to study further, some factors, beginning at birth, have long-term significance. A 2016 analysis by Daniela Casale, using data from the National Income Dynamics Study (NIDS), underlined the links between child health and educational outcomes and highlighted how much work remains to pave the next generation’s path to success. The research suggests that poor child health, particularly poor nutrition resulting in stunting (impaired growth and development), is a cause of poor educational outcomes. Evidence from the South African Birth to Twenty Cohort Study suggests that it is not just the quantity and quality of nutrition that make a difference, but also its timing. Children who have been stunted, even if they later recover, never quite catch up. If nutrition inter...

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