Basic Education admits it does not have any plans in place to track learner dropouts 

Issued by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP – DA Shadow Minister of Basic Education
27 Jan 2022 in News

Please find an attached soundbite by Baxolile ‘Bax’ Nodada MP

The DA will write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, to request a debate in Parliament on the high learner dropout rates across South African schools.

During a meeting of the portfolio committee for basic education, the Department of Basic Education (DBE)  revealed that there is no mechanisms in place to track, trace or keep learners in school in order to encourage them to return to school. Given the high number of dropouts, the DBE needs to start implementing strategies and solutions to improve learner retention in South Africa’s public schools as a matter of urgency.

Since 2010, 5 904 999 learners have fallen out the system. This number is calculated by subtracting the number of matrics who wrote their final exams from the same cohort who enrolled in Grade 10, every year since 2010.

South Africa needs innovative solutions to address this major dropout crisis. The DA has a number of suggestions to manage the crisis:

  • Develop and implement an innovative home-schooling policy: This would take a lot of pressure off an overburdened Department and solve a variety of challenges such as teacher shortages, learner transport shortages, and yearly placement difficulties.
  • Implement learner-tracking mechanisms: Work with the Department of Social Development to track learners who have dropped out of school as well as find and place learners who have never attended school.
  • Implement learner retention strategies that motivate learners to go to and stay in school.
    • In the Western Cape, the province has implemented their ‘Perform to Transform’ strategy, which includes a Growth Mindset programme for learners to improve their belief in their own abilities. The strategy also features a Change Mindset programme for teachers to drive a willingness to experiment, innovate and be more resilient in their pressure circumstances, which reflects in better outcomes for learners.
  • Adapting the curriculum: To meet the needs of the economy through annually revising key subject areas and encouraging learners to enroll for such subjects.
  • To connect students with financial support pathways: Many learners do not have the adequate financial support to stay in school. It is important to identify these learners and connect them with avenues whereby they can gain the financial support they need. This could be through a local NPO, the private sector, social welfare networks or reaching out to the local community to support learners who need it.

The causes of learner dropouts are multi-faceted and requires the political will to implement a holistic solution. We cannot allow for these learners to drop out of school as a result of factors out of their control. It is the responsibility of the DBE to provide them with the adequate foundations to succeed in the system.