On Saturday South Africans will celebrate Youth Day, a commemoration of the uprising that began in Soweto on June 16 1976. The uprising was triggered by the imposition of Afrikaans as a language of instruction but it drew on deeper grievances about apartheid SA. Are we likely to see a repeat of this historic rebellion against injustice? Many things have changed for the better. Education is now celebrated for its ability to unlock fundamental rights to health, liberty, security, and political participation. It can deepen self-understanding, enhance economic growth and help society to adjust to the unfolding revolutions in artificial intelligence and robotics. The trouble is that SA now has two fundamentally different school systems, only one of which is even minimally equipped to take on such tasks. Three-quarters of SA’s 14-million pupils attend dysfunctional schools that consistently underperform when it comes to educational outcomes. In rural provinces and townships, schools have ...

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