To our great national shame, SA has some of the world’s poorest educational outcomes, ranking near the bottom of all middle-income countries. There is significant room and need for improvement in our education system, and to this end we’ve seen massive promises, including free tertiary education. We would argue though that the current debate misses a critical dimension of the challenge and fails to address those who should be taking an active part in preparing our children for academic success. You can’t teach a hungry child; just ask anybody who’s ever tried. A hungry child can’t concentrate, they can’t sit still, they battle to grasp basic concepts — and yet this is the daily reality for many of SA’s children. Over 27% of children under five in SA are stunted. Stunting is the result of nutritional deficiencies and while children may, in time, catch up physically, the long-term effects of stunting are devastating. Children who have experienced stunting in their early years seldom c...

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