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Dropout is everyone’s problem: reducing dropout is good for South Africa’s economic health

Dropout is at its highest level in 20 years. An additional 500 000 learners have dropped out of school during the pandemic, according to new data from the NIDS-CRAM survey. Many young people who exit the schooling system without completing matric struggle to find decent jobs, and only 1 % […]

Posted on 15 Jul 2021

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OPINION: Time to shake up the way we teach with a truly learner-centred approach

By Sven Glietenberg, Assistant Lecturer at the University of Johannesburg By now, South Africa’s literacy crisis is common knowledge. The 2016 PIRLS test results found that eight out of ten Grade 4 learners cannot read for meaning in any language. The drastic implications of this national failure are most acutely felt at the Intermediate phase […]

Posted on 26 May 2021

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NIDS-CRAM findings reinforce the need for a national catch-up plan

The results of Wave 4 of the National Income Dynamics Study Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM) were released this month. The findings of the survey show how disrupted schooling has affected access to school meals, learning trajectories, and gaps in learning.

Posted on 25 May 2021

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OPINION: Imagining alternatives to the existing promotion and progression policy

By Nicci Hayes, Centre for Social Development at Rhodes University Our current system of promotion and progression in South Africa — though well-intentioned — has had negative consequences for teaching and learning, specifically for children in some of the country’s most impoverished communities. During my three decades as an educator in the Eastern Cape, I saw first-hand […]

Posted on 30 Mar 2021

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OPINION: Why expanding second chance pathways to matriculation shouldn’t require second thought

After the yearly celebrations at the release of matric results, it’s crucial that we focus on the young people who didn’t reach matric, failed their examinations, or need to improve their marks. A matric certificate has a lot of value in enabling young people to unlock work opportunities and to access further education and training. In the absence of any other school-leaving certificate, a matric is currently the only signalling tool for employers to assess competencies and skills for those who do not complete any post-school studies[…]

Posted on 12 Mar 2021

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VIDEO: Moving from disruption to recovery

Before the pandemic, around 40% of learners who started Grade 1 dropped out before completing matric. So, for many learners, disruptions to schooling are nothing new. But in 2020, things got worse. The type of disruptions that usually lead to disengagement and dropout were amplified by the pandemic. And when schools reopened, about 15% of […]

Posted on 22 Feb 2021

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OPINION: We urgently need to address the challenge of school dropout

The Preamble to our Constitution states that we, the people of South Africa, will work together to create a society in which we ‘free the potential of each person’. It positions the collective potential and capabilities of our citizens as a critical resource to the success in the developmental challenges we face. The reality is, due to the state of education in our country, much of this potential is squandered each year.

Posted on 18 Feb 2021

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OPINION: Covid-19 and repetition

The past year will be remembered as the year of Covid. For children, the pandemic brought with it lockdowns and school closures, and when schools reopened, most children could only attend on alternating days or weeks. As a result, far less teaching, and consequently, far less learning took place. There was also probably much forgetting.

Posted on 18 Feb 2021

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VIDEO: Using data to reduce dropout

South Africa simply does not have the right types of records (datasets) to measure and monitor school dropout properly. While there are several datasets tracking matric exam results, annual school surveys, and master school lists, this information is only at the ‘aggregate’ level, not at the level of individual learners. Learner-level information could help us […]

Posted on 6 Oct 2020

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How has the lockdown affected our learners?

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) recently released concerning statistics about the country’s dropout crisis, worsened by the Covid-19 school closures. On 1 September, officials from DBE told Members of Parliament (MPs) that they are now tracking absenteeism rates at schools to get a better sense of how many learners are likely to drop out.

Posted on 2 Sep 2020

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The cost of the Covid-19 school closures and its impact on children — a new study by RESEP

A research paper from the University of Stellenbosch has recommended all children be allowed to return to schools and Early Childhood Development Centres (ECD) without delay. Schools and ECD centres were closed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The decision preceded the commencement of a hard lockdown in March. Academics Servaas van der Berg […]

Posted on 16 Jun 2020

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What if your school doesn’t offer classes beyond Grade 9?

Imagine that you are learner living in a rural village in South Africa. You dream of becoming a doctor or a lawyer, and moving to the city. Before you can do all that, you must first complete high school. You wake up each morning at the crack of dawn to prepare for a long walk […]

Posted on 13 Jun 2020

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Spotlight on Data-driven approaches

This is a case study of the use of Early Warning Systems (EWS) for the prevention of school dropout. The Zero Dropout Campaign has been providing strategic and M&E support to four organisations focused on reducing dropout. This report was compiled by the New Leaders Foundation.

Posted on 9 Jun 2020

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