We need to ramp up our response to deal with dropout during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Zero Dropout Campaign is concerned that the latest decision to close public schools will negatively impact vulnerable learners from households hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The fact of the matter is that school closures carry high social and economic costs, particularly in disadvantaged communities, and increases the risk of learners dropping out,” says Merle Mansfield, Programme Director of the Zero Dropout Campaign.

Newly-released data from researchers involved in the NIDS-CRAM[1]https://cramsurvey.org/reports/ survey provides us with a better understanding of the pandemic’s impact on employment and welfare in these communities.

The first wave of findings show an 18% percent decline in employment between February and April this year — amounting to 3 million job losses mostly affecting poor women.

Nearly half of the survey respondents also said they had no money to buy food in April. Had schools remained open and the National School Nutrition Programme been operational, over 9 million children could have received a meal.

“These are important data points in the conversation about school dropout because disruptions at home, at school and in communities affect a child’s ability to stay in and succeed at school[2]See Hammond, C., D. Linton, D., Smink, J & Drew, S. 2007. Dropout Risk Factors and Exemplary Programmes: A Technical Report. National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University and … Continue reading,” Mansfield explains.

She says that the latest round of school closures is going to make it difficult for vulnerable learners to stay engaged and connected with school life and keep up with the curriculum — affecting their learning outcomes.

“This is particularly difficult for many children who don’t have access to digital tools, data, a television or radio. It also means that they are not able to access psychosocial support and safe spaces at school,” Mansfield adds.

Research shows that only 22% of households have a computer and even though many people have cellphones — only 60% can access the internet using their phones[3]https://nicspaull.com/2020/05/10/policy-brief-who-should-go-back-to-school-first-in-south-africa/.

For more information or to arrange interviews, contact Zero Dropout Communications Lead Rahima Essop.


References

References
1 https://cramsurvey.org/reports/
2 See Hammond, C., D. Linton, D., Smink, J & Drew, S. 2007. Dropout Risk Factors and Exemplary Programmes: A Technical Report. National Dropout Prevention Center at Clemson University and Communities In Schools, Inc. Available at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED497057.pdf; Branson. M., Hofmeyr, C. and Lam, D. 2013. Progress through School and the Determinants of School Dropout in South Africa. SALDRU Working Paper 100 Available here: http:// opensaldru.uct.ac.za/handle/11090/616; De Witte, K., Cabus, S., Thyssen, G., Groot, W. & van den Brink, H.M. 2013. A Critical Review of the Literature on School Dropout. Tier Working Paper Series: Tier WP 14/14. Available at: http://www.tierweb.nl/tier/assets/files/UM/Working%20papers/TIER%20WP%2014-14.pdf
3 https://nicspaull.com/2020/05/10/policy-brief-who-should-go-back-to-school-first-in-south-africa/