Updated: May 24, 2022
How can you be part of the solution?
Covid-19 lockdowns and two consecutive years of disruptions to regular schooling have amplified the factors that typically lead to disengagement and dropout, and some estimates suggest that school dropout had tripled during the pandemic. In 2021, researchers estimated that dropout was at a 20-year high.
Around 40% of learners who start school in Grade 1 will exit the schooling system before finishing matric. Leaving school without a matric certificate limits young people’s chances to learn, earn, and contribute to social and economic life. The good news is that dropout is preventable and it starts with changing perceptions about why learners are dropping out in the first place. Typically, the decision to drop outcomes at the end of a long process of disengagement in which a learner is pushed or pulled away from school because of disruptions at home, at school and in communities – these are push-out and pull-out factors.
We need a coordinated national dropout prevention plan to holistically address the problem. At a national government and policy level, the prevention of dropout must be an explicit goal of our schooling system. The availability of accurate and reliable data allows for accountability within the sector. The best way to promote accountability is by making dropout a key performance indicator (KPI).
At school level, we need to pay attention to each learner so we can see who is at risk of dropping out and help them with the problems getting in the way of their education. For instance, this can be done by keeping accurate and consistent attendance records. To build safety nets around our learners, educators must follow up with parents and caregivers when a child is chronically absent to avoid them falling through the cracks of the schooling system.