School Dropout: Reading Between The Lines

The year 2023 was a watershed one for literacy research in South Africa. 

Literacy and the ability to make sense of texts are at the foundation of learning. Without this foundation, learners cannot engage with content and, consequently, underperform academically. When this happens, learners lose confidence in themselves, question the value of school attendance and face grade repetition – factors associated with an increased risk of dropping out of school before matric. For learners who drop out of school, their access to tertiary education is limited and the likelihood of gaining employment is lowered significantly.

Building on what we know about South Africa’s literacy crisis, School Dropout: Reading Between the Lines is the first of its kind to demonstrate the relationship between poor literacy development and eventual school dropout.