When the new democratic government took power in 1994 the legacy of apartheid education loomed as a daunting symbolic and policy challenge. Racial inequality in education was indeed massive. It was imperative that the economy grew more rapidly to provide jobs for its population. For a higher growth the country had to become better at fostering and using knowledge and skills. That required schools to become more efficient in producing a growing proportion of learners who completed school and went on to university.
The new government tackled the task of restructuring education with zeal. But in that zeal, coupled with the readiness with which it rejected the advice of experienced educators, lay the germs of some large new failures.