Despite pouring billions of dollars into education, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) has little to show for its money except for public primary schools regarded as among the worst in the world and millions of students destined for a life in the underclass.
"If you don't have an education, you don't have a chance in life," said Netshiozwe, who is unemployed with little prospect of finding regular work. She and her HIV-infected aunt live together and scrape by on about $100 a month in welfare benefits.
Nearly half of South Africa's 18 to 24 year olds -- the first generation educated after apartheid ended in 1994 -- are not in the education system and do not have a job, according to government data.
Academics have called this group the "lost generation" and worry it will grow larger unless the government fixes a system riddled with failing schools, unskilled educators and corruption that stops funding from reaching its intended destinations.