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Inequality remains pervasive in the South African education system. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only shown the fault lines, but is deepening them at an alarming rate, and in a manner that may take many more years to undo.

In this contribution, we talk to the need to provide basic rights, as set out in the Freedom Charter, such as health, safety and nutrition, while we cast the net wider to consider aspects of data privacy, online learning and governance. We argue that online learning is not an option for the majority of our learners, and an overemphasis on it at this time could further entrench inequalities.  Critically, we ask the question, “Why are we not free on this Freedom Day?”

We draw on the emerging insights from a research bootcamp currently underway,  overseen by JET Education Services (JET), with a range of like-minded partners and a group of more than 150 educational researchers comprising a combination of seasoned local and international experts, government and university representatives, and a pool of volunteers from all parts of South Africa as well as a few currently based abroad in countries such as China, the United States, Japan, Ethiopia, Hungary and the Netherlands. A capacity building element is also included to allow novice researchers from various backgrounds seeking experience in the educational research field to meaningfully contribute.

Read the piece to find out what our research leaders have to say about freedom in education at this time in the history of our young democracy: "Build Education Back Better”
Freedom Day 27 April 2020

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