Increase in School Dropouts Now A Concern

Covid-19 and the resulting National Lockdown has put an even brighter spotlight on school dropouts as the dropout rate in the country only gets worse. This comes at a time where learners returning to class full-time is being considered.

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The dropout rate in schools is unfortunately getting worse and worse as we continue to ravage through this pandemic.

It's estimated that around 40% of children who start Grade 1 won't reach Matric. Now, as Covid-19 disrupts the schooling system, statistics like these are getting worse.

Zero Dropout Campaign Spokesperson, Rahima Essop:

Before the pandemic, some estimates suggest that around 300 000 young people left the schooling system each year. Now with Covid-19 school closures, together with the economic shocks of lockdown, have amplified the disruptions that typically lead to dropout.

Last year, the Department of Basic Education (DBE) said that around 15% of learners were unaccounted for when school re-opened after 2020 lockdown. 

Last month, Gauteng MEC for Education, Panyaza Lesufi, said that around 1000 learners in Gauteng have not returned to school.

"These figures give you an indication of the situation in our schools across the country and they also tell us that perhaps now more than ever before, dropout is top of mind and it's being counted. It's being registered as a serious concern," said Essop.

Efforts are now being made to locate learners who have dropped out and find out the reasons behind it are now being made.

What we know is that dropout comes at the end of a long process of disengagement in which a young person is pushed or pulled away from school. It's not just irresponsible or lazy teenagers that drop out of school. They drop out as a result of their circumstances.

There are other options available for learners who have dropped out who are looking to finish their schooling such as TVET Colleges or the Second Chance Matric Programme.

Will full-time schooling make a return?

Second term for the 2021 school year started on Monday with the rotational schedule still in place. This means that learners will only be going to school every second day of the week, now for the second year in a row. This was also a reason behind parents deciding to keep their kids at home and not sending them to school.

School children have missed out on a lot of teaching time which lead the DBE to now propose having all learners return to school full-time. 

The Department is now in meetings with the Council of Education but the final decision will be made by Cabinet.

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