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Andile Ngobeni’s middle name is Fortunate. It couldn’t better sum up her experience of the past few years. Ngobeni’s local primary school, in an impoverished community in rural Mpumalanga, was typical of many in the remote corners of SA: underresourced and struggling to provide a proper education.

At the age when they are due to progress to high school, the average 14-year-old child in such a school has a reading age of seven. Their education is effectively over...

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