By 1975, the effect of a year's primary schooling upon the wages of Africans in South Africa had fallen to about 2.5 percent — one of the lowest primary schooling returns in the world. Secondary schooling returns were high throughout the period 1960–90. The collapse of primary schooling returns was due to declining school quality, an increase in the supply of primary school graduates, an increase in mining wages in the mid-seventies, and wage regulation by the Industrial Councils and Wage Boards. The low level of the return, compared with the returns to other races in South Africa, is due to the low quality of African primary schools. Implications for education spending patterns and wage regulation are pointed out.