While the burden of preventing dropout cannot fall on educators alone, they play a crucial role in preventing dropout. Their proximity to learners makes them well placed to monitor the warning signs of disengagement and dropout, allowing them to call in the right interventions at the right time.
Linda Hlazi and France Nyambi, two Champion Teachers who are part of Yethu Network of Schools in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape respectively, work in communities where school dropout is a long-standing problem. Each province has its own set of geographic and demographic factors that drive disengagement and dropout. Hlazi started working as a teacher in 1992 and she currently teaches at Buchule Technical High in the Eastern Cape: “I’ve seen dropout before, but never like this. We need to do something now”.
Nyambi, who teaches at Bloekombos High in the Western Cape shares Hlazi’s sense of urgency: “We see in township schools that it’s not good for the kids to be out of school as many end up on drugs”.
Hlazi says it’s important to create safe and enabling spaces for learners to be able to flourish. “Currently there are no extramural activities at my school, which is bad because the kids have nothing to do. I would like to initiate more sporting activities to motivate learners and keep them engaged,” says Hlazi.
At his school, Nyambi plans to start a new debate club with the intention of keeping learners connected to school. “After-school activities were stopped last year because of Covid-19 and this had a negative impact on learners,” says Nyambi.
Nyambi says it’s important that learners have access to a caring and supportive adult to talk to about whatever is going on in their lives that could push or pull them away from school. While he has played this role in the past, he believes that all caring adults have the potential to be role models and mentors. He is excited about starting his Yethu Club so that he can better understand what the learners in his school require in order to call in additional psychosocial support.
“I am excited for my Yethu Club. Learners know best what is happening and so the best way to deal with them dropping out is to involve them in the process,” says Nyambi.
Lastly, both teachers explain that taking a daily register is important to prevent dropout. Chronic absenteeism is a common indicator of disengagement so monitoring class attendance is one of the best ways to spot when learners are disengaging from school. Nyambi says educators should get their learners invested in the process of monitoring attendance and dropout prevention. You can learn how to do this by reading the Toolkit on Dropout Prevention.
What are you doing to prevent dropout in your school? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what has worked for you. Together we can make a difference and reduce dropout in our communities.