A learner walks through a field of sugarcane to get to school in Ismont, KwaZulu-Natal, 24 July 2020.
Before the pandemic, around 40% of learners who started Grade 1 dropped out before completing matric. So, for many learners, disruptions to schooling are nothing new. But in 2020, things got worse. The type of disruptions that usually lead to disengagement and dropout were amplified by the pandemic. And when schools reopened, about 15% of learners could not be accounted in the system. Moving forward, we must build resilient systems of support around learners – in homes, schools, and communities.
Schools can lead the way by:
Tracking absenteeism more consistently and getting communities involved to help locate learners where no contact can be established
Creating safe spaces for learners to use outside of school
Tracking learner risk because this will help to identify which learners require additional support and what type of support that may be
Communicating more frequently with learners and caregivers to build a bridge between the school and home.