Department Expects High Drop Out Rates

The Covid-19 pandemic has now lead to the Department of Basic Education anticipating that there will be many dropouts in schools. They have also found that online learning was not as effective.

The Department of Basic Education is expecting a record number of Matric drop outs when looking at the number of unaccounted for learners during last year's NSC exams.

There are many factors contributing to these numbers, said Elijah Mhlanga who is the Spokesperson for the Department of Basic Education (DBE).

Last year when we planning to reopen schools after the first closure, some parents elected to keep their children at home, others applied for home education, others decided to enrol with online learning platforms so we believe that when school reopen and the schools are able to account for all the learners, we are going to see.

There are estimates of around 200 000 drop outs from researchers. Final figures will come much later.

He said fear was a major factor for many parents, as they chose to keep their children at home as they did not trust the measures that would be put in place by the department. DBE wants those learners who decided to stay home from school to reconsider their decision.

Due to the pandemic, many parents looked into online learning as the schooling choice for their children. However, Mhlanga said that it is not as effective.

Online learning has not been effective because it’s only about 27% of people who access it. Even in that number, not a lot are saying it’s beneficial so there are still challenges in that regard. It doesn’t close the gap as people seem to think. Even those learners who have access to it, they still say that they want to be inside a classroom where they will meet a teacher and interact with a teacher.

Mhlanga went on to say that finances should not stop parents from enrolling their children in school as schools offer support should your circumstances lead you to not be able to afford school fees.

The Department will embark on campaigns to get learners back to schools. They are now requesting for people to ask young people walking the streets during school hours why they are not at school and to help them go back to school.

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