Despite the country’s significant investment in basic education, around 40% of Grade 1 pupils will exit the schooling system before finishing matric. Disruptions at home and at school can unsteady learners: some get stuck, some fall behind, and some fall through the cracks entirely. Covid-19 school closures, coupled with the economic effects of the pandemic, have exacerbated many of the push out factors that lead to disengagement and dropout. Eyewitness news speaks to learners who have been forced to drop out of school for various reasons. For many, it was a difficult decision to sacrifice education for survival. Rahima Essop, Head of Communications and Advocacy at the Zero Dropout Campaign, weighs in on the issue.