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Combating South Africa’s Alarming Dropout Rate

Combating South Africa’s Alarming Dropout Rate

As the new year school year commences, many grade 1 learners will begin their schooling careers. However, a sizeable portion of them may not complete matric. 

It is estimated that only 45% of learners who begin grade 1, will write their matric exams in 12 years time. This is mainly attributed to the high dropout rate in the country. 

Research found that even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the dropout rate in the country was high. This as four out of every ten students will drop out of school before completing matric. 

Rahima Essop, spokesperson of the Zero Drop Out Campaign explains that many different factors can play a role in children not completing school. She explains that there are up to 40 different risk factors that could lead to learners dropping out of school.

One worrying statistic is that young boys are twice as likely to drop out or repeat a grade, compared to girls. She adds that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is aware of this and are looking at implementing strategies to combat this. 

Essop believes that due to the systemic nature of the problems around the dropout rate, the drivers of the problem need to be understood. Tackling the issue cannot only be the responsibility of the DBE but society as a whole.

She argues that systems need to be put into place to collect and monitor data at a school level which would serve as indicators or early warning systems. 

“Usually these indicators suggest disengagement. There are academic performance, chronic absenteeism as well as behavioral issues. Now if schools are capacitated to implement these early warning systems we will be able to from an early age…identify learners that are at risk of dropping out”, explained Essop.

She adds that psychosocial support in schools must be strengthened as well as accelerated learning to claw back the loss of time attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic.  

The Zero Drop Out Campaign believes that inclusivity, stopping bullying, providing a safe neighborhood, love and care, support at home and the correct resources can combat the high dropout rate. For more information about their campaign CLICK HERE.

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