Elusive Equity chronicles South Africas efforts to fashion a racially equitable state education system from the ashes of apartheid. The policymakers who came to power with Nelson Mandela in 1994 inherited and education system designed to further the racist goals of apartheid. Their massive challenge was to transform that system, which lavished human and financial resources on schools serving white students while systematically starving those serving African, coloured, and Indian learners, into one that would offer quality education to all persons, regardless of their race. Edward Fiske and Helen Ladd describe and evaluate the strategies that South Africa pursued in its quest for racial equity. They draw on previously unpublished data, interviews with key officials, and visits to dozens of schools to describe the changes made in school finance, teacher assignment policies, governance, curriculum, higher education, and other areas. They conclude that the country has made remarkable progress toward equity in the sense of equal treatment of persons of all races. For several reasons, however, the country has been far less successful in promoting equal educational opportunity or educational adequacy. Thus equity has remained elusive. The book is unique in combining the perceptive observations of a skilled education journalist with the analytical skills of an academic policy expert. Richly textured descriptions of how South Africas education reforms have affected schools at the grass-roots level are combined with careful analysis of enrollment, governance, and budget data at the school, provincial, and national levels. The result is a compelling and comprehensive study of South Africas firstdecade of education reform in the post-apartheid period.
"South Africa's bold effort to dismantle the legacy of an education system built on fear and hate demonstrates that policymakers need to go beyond platitudes about reform. As Fiske and Ladd clearly argue, only with significant resources and coordinated leadership over time can a country move toward equity and education for all." --Gene B. Sperling, Senior Fellow for Economic Policy and Director of the Center on Universal Education, Council on Foreign Relations "The new South Africa was born in its schools... timely assessment... Their summary of the economic reasons for the shortage of money is relatively free of the political/sociological/ economic jargon and complexity usually employed to explain away, rather than account for, failures... it is precisely what makes it so accessible to readers beyond academics... academics will find the book useful for its examination of an attempt to create a new education system to serve the needs of an entire country." --Shereen Pandit, The Educational Supplement, 10/1/2004 "Their story is...strikingly evocative of the dilemmas [South Africa] faces." --Nicholas Van de Walle, Foreign Affairs "Richly textured descriptions of how South Africa's education reforms have affected schools at the grass-roots level are combined with careful analysis of enrollment, governance, and budget data at the school, provincial and national levels. The result is a compelling and comprehensive study of South Africa's first decade of education reform in the post-apartheid period." -- Africa News, 10/5/2005 "The insights they offer...are revealing, especially coming from outsiders." --Deputy President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, 5/31/2005 "the authors provide a balanced and thorough preliminary analysis of education reforms during the first postapartheid decade within South Africa...a solid introductory piece of research on the complex aspects of education reform in postapartheid South Africa" --Karen L. Biraimah, University of Central Florida, Comparative Education Review "the authors succeed quite convincingly in problematizing issues of equity in education...Fiske and Ladd have made a valuable contribution." --Gert J. van der Westhuizen, African Studies Review "Fiske and Ladd provide profound, systematic and empirically substantiated assessments of schooling in South Africa a decade after the formal close of apartheid. Their study confronts the key issues relevant to educational equity, including the heritage of deprivation of schools serving blacks and the impact of persistent beliefs in black inferiority on the part of many teachers. This is now the definitive study of educational policy in post-apartheid South Africa." --William Darity Jr., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill "ELUSIVE EQUITY is the most comprehensive analysis yet of the various reforms--in school finance, governance, curriculum, and teacher policy--aimed at overcoming the inequities of apartheid education. While sympathetic to the aims of post-apartheid transformation, it gives deep insights into the difficulties of reforming a profoundly unequal system." --John Pampallis, Director, Centre for Education Policy Development, Johannesburg "This is a well-researched examination of the complexities of educational reform in South Africa. Ladd and Fiske have gone beyond the headlines to allow both reformers and critics to speak in their own voice about the challenges they face in overcoming the legacies of apartheid." --Professor James A. Joseph, Former U.S. Ambassador to South Africa "Edward Fiske and Helen Ladd in their book Elusive Equity: Education Reform in Post-Apartheid South Africa offer a compelling account of key opportunities and challenges that confront South African schools as they attempt to shed systemic restrictions imposed by discriminatory laws and policies of apartheid. Through their comprehensive analysis, the authors illuminate complex dynamics that need to be taken into account to successfully reform the system of education in this country." --Reitumetse Obakeng Mabokela, Michigan State University, H-Net Humanities & Social Sciences