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Assessing and promoting civil and minority rights in South Africa.

[Source: Business Day by Nic Spaull.]

It is not every day that Treasury reports can make you want to drink in the middle of the day. Then again, it’s not every day you realise a country-wide crisis has been brewing under your nose for a decade and no one noticed it. Over the past seven years there has been a consistent decline in the purchasing power of per pupil expenditure on basic education, and no one has said a thing. To put it bluntly, funding per schoolchild has declined 8% in seven years. In so many ways this undoes any of the advances we think we might have made in the education arena over the last seven years.

For a while now we’ve known that something funny happened in SA between 2003 and 2005, when births spiked 13% and continued to stay high for a few years before coming down slightly in 2008. The leading explanation is the roll-out of antiretrovirals over the same period.

True to form, grade 1 enrolments spiked 13% five years later in 2008, with subsequent enrolment data showing this cohort slowly working its way through the education system, with similarly large cohorts following in their footsteps each year. This group, which we’ve dubbed the “silent ship” in our research group, is now in grade 8.

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South Africa at a Glance
57 700 000 (mid 2018 estimate)
4.5% y/y in December 2018 (CPI) & +5.2 y/y in December 2018 (PPI)
2.2% q/q (3rd quarter of 2018)
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