In July researchers revealed that an additional 500 000 learners left school during the pandemic, taking dropout to a 20-year high. In this episode of Besekuwe Merle Mansfield, Programme Director of the Zero Dropout Campaign, speaks about some of the root causes of dropout. She explains that very often, the factors pushing and pulling learners out of school are beyond their control. Poverty and inequality are still the strongest underlying causes of dropout. Learners with poorer access to resources, support networks, and opportunity are both more likely to experience disruptions to their education, and less likely to withstand them. Mansfield then discusses possible solutions and systems of support. She stresses that now more than ever before we need an urgent and sustained dropout prevention plan to help learners stay in, and succeed at school.