The global meme ‘building back better’ certainly applies to South Africa if we are to achieve a sustainable and resilient recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. We cannot simply rebuild the system with the same flaws.
In our schooling system, building back better requires us to face head-on a major constraint to economic development and greater equality, namely the high prevalence of learner dropout. Half of people living in South Africa live below the poverty line of R1 268 per month with little opportunity to work themselves out of it – the unemployment rate was more than 30% in the third quarter of 2020. It was sobering that a full 10% of the population joined the lines for the special Covid-19 grant of R350. Enabling children to complete school is one of the most powerful strategies to break the cycles of poverty and marginalisation.
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