This introductory editorial article is premised on the fundamental notion that education is about personal and social change. But such a view, as in Dickens’s “A Tale of Two Cities”, is fraught with contradictions. To illustrate: education could either be an instrument of oppression or of emancipation; it could be inequitable as in socially differentiated curricula and resource distribution; or it could unequivocally pursue equity for the benefit of all social strata. Our broad conceptual construction is guided by global and South African trends, as well as by the varied
contributions featured in this special issue. Implicitly, if not explicitly, the underlying thrust is that exclusion, on whatever grounds, from quality education for all has a paralytic effect on the individual
and on society, whereas equity is not only a moral compulsion but also a material imperative with broad palliative effects. The conclusion drawn is that democratic education systems should not only pay inordinate attention to SET (i.e. science, engineering, and technology) as a consequence of global exigencies, but that equal attention should be given to knowledge that enhances human sensibilities and social cohesion.