On Tuesday I completed site visits to 25 of SA’s elite primary schools. My research team is interested in how high-in-demand schools manage their admissions policy as parents — wealthy and poor, white and black — compete for access to these prized institutions.

Our book will address this question about the elite schools: Who gets in and why?

Before that, I visited those other SA schools, the vast majority where I spend most of my time, resources and energies trying to “turn around” dysfunctional sites of teaching and learning. It is truly heartbreaking to see such incredible privilege for the white and black middle classes existing alongside treacherous education for the working classes and the poor. But you would not know about these two school systems when you listen to the minister of basic education talk about the coming technological revolution about to sweep across 27,000-plus schools. Since the state of the nation debate of 2018 the minister seems gripped by the allure of hi-tech gadgets for our schools. Then she read off an eloquent statement, inserted into her speech by experts, that “disruptive digital technologies are changing the way we live and work” and that these trends demanded skills such as “creativity, agility, adaptability, creative and critical thinking”. By the time she announced the 2018 National ...

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