Poverty Causes High Dropout During Pandemic

During the pandemic, approximately 500 000 pupils in South Africa have dropped out of school. According to the latest National Income Dynamics Study and its Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey, poverty has caused this high dropout in the country.


Before the pandemic, South Africa already had a high dropout rate which has only gotten worse. The dropout rate is determined by comparing the enrolment numbers at the beginning of any new cohort of pupils entering Grade 1 to the number of pupils who write the Grade 12 examinations. 

Isobel Frye, the Director at the Study in Poverty and Inequality Institute, stated that according to the latest National Income Dynamics Study and its Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey, one of the biggest impacts of poverty through the COVID-19 impact has been the high dropout of pupils from school.

When referring to the general unemployment figures in South Africa, it has been established that 56% of the unemployed have not finished primary school and another third have a matric certificate as their highest qualification. 

Frye believes that "when trying to tackle unemployment, which is one of the key drivers of poverty and under-development of the country, it is clear that education needs to be the ladder that takes people out of their current situation."

The Study in Poverty and Inequality Institute is concerned about the level of stunting and malnutrition that millions of people are experiencing in the country.

The COVID-19 data demonstrated that 13 million people are living in "perpetual hunger", 3 million of which are children.

The research has also shown that the level of attendance has been the lowest in 20 years, which may be caused by many different factors.

A few of these factors include parents not having enough money to cover travelling costs to send their children to school and children not being able to concentrate at school because they are hungry.

Frye emphasized that there is a multi-dimensional impact of poverty, which demonstrates itself in the next generation's lives that the country is failing.

Although the institute has asked for the government to extend the social relief of distress grant and the caregivers grant, their plea has not been answered. The institute believes that with the help of these grants, parents and guardians will be able to send their children to school and ensure that they are well fed. 

Which will hopefully address the high dropout issue in South Africa.

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