Most commentators, including me, take the government’s annual crowing about the matric results with a heavy pinch of salt. Conventional wisdom is that 80% of the educational system is dysfunctional and attempts to improve it have borne little fruit.

Recent research, which revealed that 78% of SA’s grade four pupils cannot read for meaning, seems to bear this out. And yet there is at least some evidence, from academic studies and the latest matric results, that the school system is gradually improving...

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