NAPTOSA’s View On School Dropout Rate Confirmed

NAPTOSA voiced their views on the recent research report by the Stellenbosch University’s Research on Socioeconomic Policy Group on the flow of learners through schools.


NAPTOSA stated that although the report aimed to present a picture of the kind of data analysis that is possible with high-quality education data, the media focused on finding that 10 learner years at high school is required for every matric pass.

According to the researchers, this is the case because some who eventually matriculate are only able to do so after having repeated once or twice, but mainly due to more learners spending some years in high school without ever reaching or passing Grade 12.

NAPTOSA valued the findings on the school dropout rate which confirmed their view that the annual matric results do not truly reflect the functionality and effectiveness of the education system if the number of pupils who complete the NSC examinations annually is not compared to the number of that cohort which enrolled in Grade 1.

The report also validates their contention that “gatekeeping” is common in the South African education system to enhance matric results. 

The research revealed that the real dropout issue is mainly in Grade 10 and 11, as 11% of pupils in each of these grades dropped out in 2018. 

NAPTOSA stated that “there is no disputing that provincial education departments, through their district offices, continue to pressurise high schools to perform without providing assistance to the non-academic child trapped in an academic system. Schools react by holding back learners in Grades 10 and 11 to enhance their standings in the matric results league table. Provinces and Districts turn a blind eye to these manipulations.”

Another research paper recently found that approximately 700 000 pupils dropped out of school since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Though we expressed doubts regarding the magnitude of the figure, it remains a fact, from research conducted by the education unions, that a vast number of learners have failed to return to school during this period.”

“As sad as it is, it should not distract from the real issue, namely that the reasons for the huge dropout rate of learners over the course of their schooling, especially in Grades 10 and 11, is of the Department of Basic Education’s (DBE) own making,” stated NAPTOSA.

NAPTOSA believes that when the focus is on performance and pass rate percentages instead of on the education of the pupils, the dropout rate is relegated to an issue of lesser importance. 

“When has the DBE ever raised the dropout issue in the celebrations of the matric results? It is better for the Department’s matric pass rate image if academically weaker learners are held back in Grades 10 and 11, lest they negatively affect the pass rate.”

 The statement by NAPTOSA read that “this is borne out by the research that found that learners seem to get “stuck” (a euphemism for deliberate retention) in Grade 10 for two or more years, and only a fraction of learners manage to make it to Grade 12.”

“We await the day when not the matric pass rate, but the percentage of learners who started Grade 1 and passes matric becomes the headlines. NAPTOSA will continue its pursuit of this goal,” read the statement.

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