Steps on the road to learning

From Global development | The Guardian Sun Nov 25 2012, 19:01:18

South Africa spends a large proportion of its budget on schools, yet 80% are failing. But new initiatives are helping the 'rainbow nation' move toward its education goals

A schoolboy drags his rucksack up the rocky path to the dilapidated mud house he has shared with his uncle since his parents died from HIV/Aids.

As so often, 11-year-old Sanele returns from school to find the door padlocked. A glance through the greying torn curtains confirms no one is home. Once more Sanele picks his way back down the hill to beg a meal from his neighbour.

His is a childhood lost, an innocence betrayed not just by the regular beatings of his alcoholic uncle but by frustrated expectations here in the Umzinyathi district of KwaZulu-Natal. This is one of South Africa's poorest regions with 50% HIV infection and 80% unemployment.

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