Sunday Times: Pandemic sharply increases SA’s school dropout rate

The latest results of the National Income Dynamics Study Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (Nids-Cram), released on Thursday, reveal that 650,000 to 750,000 children aged seven to 17 were not attending school by May this year, representing an increase in the number of absent pupils of 400,000-500,000 compared with pre-Covid times. However, this increase did not represent a “permanent dropout” but rather a “transient or temporary dropout”, said Debra Shepherd, a researcher at Stellenbosch University and a co-author of the Nids-Cram research.

Merle Mansfield, programme director of the Zero Dropout Campaign, said many pupils who drop out fall into the category known as “not in education, employment or training”. “The truth is that there are not many opportunities for learners who do not have a matric, and their likelihood of accessing gainful employment is also slim,” Mansfield said.