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Evidence of the state’s decrepitude is everywhere, from the potholed roads and stinking beaches to decaying small towns. But nowhere is the state’s inability to get the basics right more insidious than in its failure to teach children how to read.

If there is one thing South Africans agree on, it’s that radically improving the education system is the key to faster growth and employment. So why isn’t there a national outcry over the fact that 78% of grade 4 pupils cannot read for meaning in any language?..

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