The Advisor for the Department of Basic Education, Professor Martin Gustafsson refutes the recent National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile (NIDS-CRAM).
The survey suggested that over 500 000 children of school going age were not attending school.
We have a problem, I think we need to look very carefully on data, NIDS-CRAM analysts did as good a job as they could with the data. Remember they are using a telephonic survey data. As the Department of Education, we have individual data for learners, yes it tells us there is a problem, but not to the magnitude of 500 000.
Prof Gustafsson confirmed that there is 10 000 fewer children at schools who have fallen out of the schooling system than reported when looking at the Department of Education data.
The Department of Education agrees to the existing problem of learners between the age of 7 and 14 years old but says the NIDS-CRAM data is not accurate.
Gustafsson said according to their data, about 30 000 children between 7 and 14 years have been lost altogether in the schooling system. He explained that the 10 000 learners were dropouts, and 20 000 more children would have started school from Grade R.
The effects of the pandemic haven’t been severe on learners to the point of death, the problem might be caused by fears of parents, said Gustafsson.
The Professor also added that other causes might be parents who lost jobs or disruptions that happened in the school feeding scheme programme.
The department encourages children to be sent to school as they are losing more on education and what they have lost might not be recovered.
Gustafsson emphasized the acknowledgment of the problem within the education system but saying that as the department, they are trying to minimize the extent of school dropouts.
The Department of Education Advisor said there is no clear evidence that by sending children to school worsens the spread of Covid-19 in the community. Children interact with each other outside of school as well, Gustafsson said.
The Department of Education is said to be trusting their own data which they claim to be more accurate than the recent NIDS-CRAM survey.