The article provides an analysis and critique of contemporary debates concerning the quality of education in South Africa from a social justice perspective. In particular the article focuses on the Education Roadmap which has gained support from a range of stakeholders in South Africa including key members of the newly elected government. The Education Roadmap is considered in relation to dominant approaches to understanding education quality within the education literature, namely the human capital and human rights based approaches. It is argued that the Roadmap shares characteristics of both approaches although it is particularly influenced by the former. The article sets out an alternative approach based on social justice principle that, whilst developing and extending aspects of dominant approaches, is considered pertinent because it articulates with historical struggles around education in South Africa. It is suggested that although the Roadmap demonstrates limited characteristics of a social justice approach, it falls short in other key aspects and it is these aspects that must form the basis for ongoing struggles for a more equitable education system.
International Journal of Educational Development (2010) [doi:10.1016/j.ijedudev.2010.06.008]