If you build your house on sand, you shouldn’t be surprised if the top storeys start to crack. In this country, business and labour have dedicated a lot of time to skills development. More recently, #FeesMustFall highlighted the consequences of university fees on equality and growth. But underpinning these challenges are profound inequalities in basic education, and progress there has been achingly slow. The quality of state schools mostly reflects their position in the apartheid system of 22 years ago. The top 15% of schools have been integrated, but they remain privileged. The rest – well, you’re lucky to make it to matric, luckier to pass, and very unlikely to have a chance at further education. In 2015, the wealthiest 15% of schools — virtually all of them historically non-African — accounted for 30% of university passes, while the poorest 25%, most of them in the former so-called "homeland" areas, got about half as many. The richest schools had a pass rate of more than 90%, wit...

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