The school dropout rate in South Africa is the highest it has been in 20 years. A study published this week revealed that by May, as many as 500 000 more pupils than before the Covid-19pandemic began were not attending school. This means that, since the last general household survey (GHS), which found that 230 000 pupils had dropped out of school, the rate has tripled, and now about 730 000 pupils are not attending school. There are about 13million pupils in the education system. This came out of the National Income Dynamics Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM)
Merle Mansfield, programme director of the Zero Dropout Campaign, told City Press that schools could not simply accept that pupils had dropped out and not do anything about it. She said schools needed to have tracing and tracking systems in place to follow up on pupils who no longer showed up for classes. “Schools don’t have accurate details for parents. They don’t have contact numbers or the correct addresses of where pupils live. These kinds of problems need to be resolved,” she said. Schools needed to find innovative ways of tracing truants, such as linking up with community organisations and asking other parents to volunteer to go from door to door looking for children who had dropped out so that the youngsters would not be lost in the system, she added.