• desegregation;
  • education;
  • inequalities;
  • South Africa;
  • spatial policies

ABSTRACT. Restructuring apartheid geographies of racial stratification and spatial segregation poses formidable challenges, not least in education. Increasing intraracial inequality also underscores the importance of widening access and opportunity. Although South African education is not constrained by the highly localized control found in the United States and the United Kingdom, school allocation policies and parental choices create geographies that intersect with those of race and residence. Spatial variations critically influence both the impacts of postapartheid policies and the patterns of school desegregation. In this article we explore the spatial impact of inequality, desegregation, and state policies in relation to fourteen secondary schools in Cape Town, distinguishing outcomes that reflect inherited inequalities and current policies from outcomes that reflect individual school strategies. Capital funding is insufficient to change inherited inequalities, and differential fees and fund-raising capacities perpetuate inequalities in operational resources. Sharing resources, taxing fee income, and a measure of provincial control over feeder areas could reduce inequalities.