Think tanks & NGOs

Think tanks & NGOs


RETHINK school dropout: What does the research teach us?

It is vital that we approach the issue of school dropout with openness and curiosity, paying attention not only to what the research says but to the lived experience of those in our education sector.  There are many stereotypes and preconceptions surrounding school dropout, such as “children drop out of school because they are lazy” […]

Posted on 21 August 2023


OPINION: Reimagining a schooling culture of care

Since the onset of the Covid-19 crisis, there have been renewed calls to reimagine education. In doing so, we must begin to engage with school dropout as a complex gendered phenomenon. Reimagining education requires us to shed unhelpful categories and seek new and inclusive frames, categories and ways of thinking, as we make sense of, and tackle, the country’s school dropout crisis.

Posted on 3 February 2022


What does the matric pass rate actually tell us about the health of South Africa’s schooling system?

The annual matric pass rate is traditionally considered a measure of the health of our schooling system. This statistic is an important indicator for the basic education sector, but it does not tell us about learners’ pathways through school from Grade 1 to matric. The matric pass rate only tells us about the percentage of […]

Posted on 19 January 2022


Everyone has the right to basic education, but administrative roadblocks are hampering access

Getting to the end of your schooling career and finishing your matric exams can be both rewarding and exciting. As things stand, the National Senior Certificate (NSC) is the only widely recognised school-level qualification in South Africa. Completing matric unlocks opportunities for further study or employment. But it’s no secret that learners in South Africa […]

Posted on 14 December 2021


One in three pregnant girls drop out, but it doesn’t have to be this way

The Department of Basic Education (DBE) has released new statistics on underage pregnancies, which shows a rise in deliveries since 2017. In Parliament this week, DBE officials announced that one in three girls between 10 and 19 years leave school after becoming pregnant.

Posted on 10 September 2021


Learners are disappearing from our education system

Until recently dropout wasn’t spoken about much, at least not on a national level.  That was until the Covid-19 pandemic began to change our lives.  When schools reopened, many teachers were left wondering why their learners were not returning, and for the first time in years, typically overcrowded classrooms were shrinking. Nomfundo Khambule, a teacher […]

Posted on 2 August 2021


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


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 February 2021


The value of tracking absenteeism

One of the most important changes we can make in our collective effort to reduce school dropout is to start keeping better records about our learners. By tracking individual learners’ absenteeism, academic performance and behaviour, we can better understand their struggles and pathways through school. This will allow us to identify learners at risk of […]

Posted on 1 December 2020


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 October 2020


How can we support our teachers to prevent dropout? Here’s what we’ve learnt.

There are numerous inspiring stories of educators making profound contributions in their student’s lives, despite working in difficult circumstances. In the book, Great South African Teachers, the authors came up with seven profiles of inspirational teachers based on accounts from former learners. The authors explained that it’s often teachers who go beyond the call of duty in class, and after hours, who are the most inspirational.

Posted on 23 September 2020


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 September 2020


Bright new ideas to promote literacy

Research shows that reading to children at a young age has a positive effect on their learning. The interaction between adult and child is also important for fostering a supportive, caring relationship. But it’s not always possible for many caregivers and parents to read to their children, because they lack confidence in their own literacy skills.

Posted on 20 August 2020


What does it take to keep learners engaged in school despite challenging circumstances?

Dropout is rarely a single event; it’s a process of disengagement involving different push out and pull out factors in a young person’s home, school or community. We take a look at what our NPO implementing partners are doing to address disengagement and re-engage learners in the schools in which they operate. Caring adult support, […]

Posted on 19 August 2020


Staying connected: Supporting the girl child during lockdown

A school is more than a space for learning; it occupies a multi-faceted role in the life-world of a child. Schools are spaces where children can access key support services, enrichment programmes and meals. Accessing support mechanism outside of the school environment is not easy for disadvantaged communities, particularly in rural areas. But that’s not […]

Posted on 18 August 2020


Spotlight on our Zero Dropout Champions: CAP

Schools are more than simply spaces for learning; it’s where many children access meals, psychosocial support services, and enrichment programmes. These services were cut off for numerous vulnerable learners when classes were suspended at the start of the lockdown. To mitigate the impact of the school closures, the Community Action Programme (CAP) — one of […]

Posted on 12 August 2020


Spotlight on our Zero Dropout Champions: Masibumbane

The Masibumbane Development Organisation (MDO) has adopted the American dropout prevention model of “Check & Connect” (C&C) and adapted aspects to suit the local context of schools in poor communities in East London. MDO works with learners in Grade 6 to Grade 9, and identifies at-risk learners through the C&C criteria at the beginning of the year for inclusion in a mentoring programme.

Posted on 17 July 2020


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 June 2020


Spotlight on our Zero Dropout Champions: Khula

We have partnered with four non-profit organisations (NPOs) to implement dropout prevention strategies at various schools across the country. Our partnerships are focused on identifying and demonstrating what it takes to help learners stay in and succeed at school. The provision of psychosocial and academic support is central to these models of intervention. Khula Development […]

Posted on 15 June 2020


Spotlight on our Zero Dropout Champions: NACCW

Our partnership with the National Association of Childcare Workers (NACCW) aims to prevent dropout by providing school-based services to meet the complex needs of vulnerable adolescents in Kwa-Zulu Natal. The NACCW is an independent non-profit organisation (NPO) providing professional training to promote healthy child and youth development.

Posted on 15 June 2020