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Law, Democracy and Development

versión On-line ISSN 2077-4907
versión impresa ISSN 1028-1053


ARENDSE, Lorette. The South African Constitution's empty promise of "radical transformation": unequal access to quality education for black and/or poor learners in the public basic education system. Law democr. Dev. [online]. 2019, vol.23, pp.100-147. ISSN 2077-4907.

The South African Constitution mandates the radical transformation of the public basic education system. To that end, the Constitution, read with the South African Schools Act, entrenches a right of equal access to quality basic education for all. The substantive approach to equality, rooted in the transformative ideology of the Constitution, necessitates an acknowledgment and overcoming of the past patterns of disadvantage, based primarily on the grounds of race and socio-economic class. Locating my analysis in "quality education" in the United Nations Report, "Normative action for quality education", I find that the definition of "quality education" involves a holistic approach which encompasses learners' level of academic achievement, the provision of an adequate school infrastructure, a well-qualified teaching profession, and schools that embrace a substantive form of democracy. In examining each of these indicators, I find the emergence of a clear pattern: for black and/or poor South African learners in the public school domain, disadvantage manifests in an unequal access to quality education.

Palabras clave : South African Constitution; transformation; basic education; unequal access; race; socio-economic class; black and poor; patterns of disadvantage; quality education; holistic approach.

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