School dropout rates have an impact on students, their families and communities, and on society as a whole. While everyone in South Africa is impacted by the phenomenon, everyone has the potential to be part of the solution. Education experts explored the strategies that can be employed to protect learners’ constitutionally guaranteed right to education at a panel discussion at the Constitution Hill Human Rights Festival on Saturday, 19 March.
Even before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, South Africa was facing a crisis in the form of school dropout, with around four out of 10 learners who started school in Grade 1 dropping out before reaching matric. The phenomenon has become normalised in many communities, the shrinking of classes between grades 8 and 12 an accepted reality.
“The Zero Dropout Campaign wants to change perceptions about the causes of dropout, so that we can collectively focus our attention on preempting and preventing dropout,” says Rahima Essop, Head of Communications and Advocacy at the Zero Dropout Campaign. “We can do that by instituting what we call early warning systems, and also by strengthening our psychosocial support interventions at schools.” Essop was speaking at a panel on education, titled “Back to School: A challenging reality to vulnerable South Africans”, at the Constitution Hill Human Rights Festival.
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