Imagine a class of 100 Grade 1s on their first day of school, bright-eyed and eager to learn. Of those 100 learners, at least 40 will drop out of school before finishing matric. School dropout has become normalised in many communities, deepening inter-generational poverty, joblessness and inequality. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, researchers estimated that between […]
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a rise in learners not attending school and who may permanently drop out. In November last year, the Basic Education Department (DBE) revealed that around 200 000 learners did not return to school during a six-month period. Even before the pandemic, around 40% of learners who started school in Grade 1 would drop out before completing matric. So, what makes a learner more likely to drop out?
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, school dropout was a ‘hidden crisis’ barely featuring on the national agenda even though it is commonplace in many communities. The pandemic has brought South Africa’s dropout crisis to the fore, necessitating schools to take immediate action to get learners back into the classroom. But it’s not going to be easy […]
Schools are scheduled to open today at a time when school attendance is the lowest in two decades. Fewer learners have returned to school this year compared to pre-pandemic attendance figures, and the dropout rate has tripled. “The longer it takes to get our learners back to class, the less likely they are to return,” says Merle Mansfield, Programme Director of the Zero Dropout Campaign.
The matric pass rate is traditionally considered a measure of the health of our schooling system and a key performance indicator by which the Minister of Basic Education is held to account. But, what does this statistic actually tell us about learners’ pathways through school, particularly during a pandemic? “Before the pandemic, around 2 out […]
Tracking absenteeism at schools is integral to dropout prevention, even more so with many learners not returning to class because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the importance of accurate data and information in uncertain times, we don’t have systematic and complete learner-level data from the government, according to new research commissioned by the Zero Dropout […]
Dropout is rarely about a single event. It follows a long process of disengagement caused by disruptions to learning, which is why anything that hampers teaching and learning, such as the lack of access to resources and infrastructure problems, can elevate the risk of school dropout. “The fact that infrastructure remains a barrier in spaces where learners are already contending with socio-economic challenges outside of the school space […]
On Tuesday, 6 October, the Zero Dropout Campaign addressed Members of the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education about the country’s dropout crisis, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. “School closures, together with the economic impact of the lockdown, have placed learners already at risk of dropout into deeper financial, psychosocial and academic distress. Now more than […]
The Covid-19 pandemic has unsettled learning in different ways. It has disrupted schooling and slammed the breaks on many after-school literacy programmes. Considering that 78% of Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning in any language, after-school programmes play an important role in helping children with gaps in their foundational literacy.
In South Africa and other developing countries, school closures carry a high risk for marginalised girls because of exposure to sexual exploitation and teenage pregnancy while outside the classroom.
“Protracted school closures exacerbate gender inequalities, which is why girls are particularly vulnerable to dropout,” says […]
The Zero Dropout Campaign is concerned that the latest decision to close public schools will negatively impact vulnerable learners from households hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. “The fact of the matter is that school closures carry high social and economic costs, particularly in disadvantaged communities, and increases the risk of learners dropping out,” says […]
The June 1976 protests have been credited with changing the socio-political landscape of the country and giving new impetus to the fight against Apartheid. This movement set a precedent for youth activism, which not only had the potential to change individual schools and the education system but society at large. Since then, various youth-led movements […]
The Zero Dropout Campaign calls on education officials to ensure that school recovery plans are implemented safely and consistently, particularly in lower quintile schools that do not have access to running water and sanitation. “We support the decision to complete the 2020 academic year, provided all reasonable measures are taken to protect learners, support staff, […]
Protracted school closures can lead to an increase in learner dropout, which is why we are urging non-profit organisations (NPOs) to revise their dropout preventative strategies to respond to the long-term effects of the lockdown. We also urge education officials to put measures in place to address learner disengagement, considering many are falling behind with […]
The national state of disaster declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa is an opportunity for parents and communities to do their part to mitigate the impact of school closures by ensuring that children are safe, emotionally supported, and do not fall behind academically. “School closures, even for short periods, carry economic and social costs, especially in […]
In his Budget speech, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that R396 billion will be allocated to learning and culture. Education usually gets the lion’s share of the Budget, but how are our public funds supporting school dropout prevention strategies? “We are concerned that the government is not strategically addressing the high dropout rate with targeted […]
President Cyril Ramaphosa unveiled his government’s new six-pronged plan to tackle the high rate of youth unemployment during his State of the Nation Address, but this approach lacks the targeted policies needed to dramatically address the hidden crisis of learners dropping out of school. “The fact of the matter is that 44% of unemployed young […]