OPINION: In the wake of the pandemic, a proposed new law to reduce school dropout is still falling short

We welcome the well-intentioned attempts by the government to reduce dropout through proposed changes to the Basic Education Laws Amendment Bill (BELA Bill), but there are parts of the proposed new law that we need to get right urgently.

Clause three of the BELA Bill places new obligations on educators, principals and school governing bodies to track absenteeism as a mechanism to prevent dropout. This is a good starting point but it is not enough. Research and literature on school dropout tell us that adequate prevention measures require schools to understand, monitor and respond to the early warning indicators of disengagement and dropout. 

Early warning systems and wraparound support services must form part of a national strategic approach to addressing dropout. To be effective, this approach must be championed by the government and schools must be capacitated to implement this intervention effectively. This would require strengthening existing systems, human resource capacity and processes at schools.

Read the full opinion piece on the Daily Maverick.