PART 1: Children and Law Reform 
This focus on recent legislative developments affecting children includes commentary on the Child Justice Act, the Criminal Law (Sentencing) Amendment Act, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, education policy developments, the Regulations to the amended Children’s Act, the Social Service Professions Bill, and Regulations to the Social Assistance Act.

PART 2: Meaningful access to basic education 
presents nine essays that examine children’s right to education and what is required to ensure meaningful access to basic education in South Africa:

1. Children’s right to basic education 
by Lori Lake and Shirley Pendlebury 
Drawing on the Constitution and international law, the essay provides a framework for interpreting the right to education. It argues for the vital role of ordinary people in holding government accountable and ensuring that children’s rights are realised in South Africa.

2. Meaningful access to basic education 
by Shirley Pendlebury 
South Africa has made significant progress in improving access to education, but extensive enrolment in schools has not resulted in improved educational outcomes. Meaningful access is not just about getting children into school; it is also about ensuring that children can and do learn once they get there. The essay outlines some conditions for meaningful access and proposes several strategies for increasing overcoming the barriers to meaningful access to basic education.

3. Education funding: Budgeting for meaningful access 
by Russell Wildeman 
A range of policy and funding mechanisms are in place to mediate poverty and increase access to education. This essay explores the strengths and weaknesses of the current budgetary framework and whether it impedes or improves access to meaningful education.

4. Addressing quality through school fees and school funding
by Katharine Hall and Sonja Giese 
School‐fee exemptions and no‐fee schools aim to alleviate financial barriers to education, but do they enhance meaningful access? This essay examines the impact of these policies on school funding and schools’ capacity to deliver quality education.

5. Children out of school: 
Evidence from the Community Survey
by Brahm Fleish, Jennifer Shindler and Helen Perry 

Poverty is often cited as one main reason why children drop out of school. Yet the high enrolment rate suggests a more complex relationship between poverty and school drop‐out. An analysis of the 2007 Community Survey examines the distribution, family and individual characteristics of out‐of‐school children, and identifies several potential barriers to meaningful education.

6. School drop-out: Poverty and patterns of exclusion

by Veerle Dieltins and Sarah Meny-Gibert 

This essay draws on the qualitative findings of the Barriers to Education Project to examine some of the more complex reasons for school drop‐out. It explores how relative poverty, social exclusion and poor quality education account for patterns of enrolment and drop‐out at different points in children’s school careers.

7. Schools and communities: Building effective partnership 
by Norma Rudolph
The relationship between schools and communities can either enable or impede access to education. Drawing on the findings from the Caring Schools Project, this essay explores these dynamics and introduces several strategies that can enable schools and communities to work together and promote child well‐being.

8. Count one count all: Numeracy in the foundation phase
by Paula Ensor, Ursula Hoadley, Heather Jacklin, Cally Kühne, 
Esme Schmitt and Ana Paula Lombard 
The Count One Count All research project identifies key classroom practices that impact on children’s ability to learn about numbers. The essay explores how these practices account for learners’ poor performance in the grade 3 national assessment and identifies what needs to be done to strengthen numeracy teaching in the foundation phase. It also raises some concerns about the Foundations for Learning Campaign.

9. Building a strong foundation: 
Learning to read, reading to learn
by Cas Prinsloo

Literacy is the key to learning. Yet, the recent grade 3 national assessment results indicate that there is an urgent need to address literacy in the foundation phase. The essay draws on a Human Science Research Council study of 20 schools in Limpopo that identified some of the root causes of the problem, and proposes a several strategies to foster a culture and practice of reading.

PART 3: Children Count – The numbers 
provides an annual update on children’s socio‐economic rights and comments on the extent to which these rights have been realised. A set of key indicators track the demographics of children, care arrangements, and their access to social assistance, education, health‐care services, housing, water, sanitation and electricity.