From 1987 to 1994, South Africa's public education resources increased from 5.8% to 7.3% of GDP. The annual growth rate of education spending in real terms showed an absolute per capita expansion. This paper explores the distribution of these resources across socioeconomic and demographic groups, using Benefit Incidence Analysis, which measures how well public services have been targeted.The analysis revealed spending disparities across income groups, regions and races: the shares of public education resources benefiting the poor and ultra-poor are substantially lower than their shares of school-age population. Inequality in the distribution widens by educational level from primary to tertiary for all population groups.The analysis of household direct expenses suggests that if the costs of uniforms,transport and meals were reduced for poor primary and secondary school-age children,and scholarships were expanded for tertiary education in order to exempt the poor from school fees, enrollment among the poor could rise. These programs could be accompanied by cost recovery mechanisms that do not discriminate against the poor, and would free up public education funds to finance the additional expenses. Regionally, important gains could be achieved in allocating public education resources to the poor and the ultra-poor if the Eastem Cape, KwaZulu Natal and Northern Province were targeted.