Some 22 years ago, Thabo Mbeki, then deputy president of South Africa, made what some labelled a bold assessment of the state of the country during a parliamentary debate on reconciliation and nation-building.
"We... make bold to say that South Africa is a country of two nations. One of these nations is white, relatively prosperous, regardless of gender or geographic dispersal. It has ready access to a developed economic, physical, educational, communication and other infrastructure.
"The second and larger nation of South Africa is black and poor, with the worst affected being women in the rural areas, the black rural population in general and the disabled. This nation lives under conditions of a grossly underdeveloped economic, physical, educational, communication and other infrastructure."
The address, popularly known as the "two nations" speech, captured the unequal nature of our society after four years of democracy. In 2020, this assessment remains largely true across many (if not all) facets of society.
In education, these challenges find expression in the dual nature of our system. On one hand, you have affluent and middle-class parents who have access to quality education through private and highly functional public schools, while the majority of poor and working-class...