By Daniel Itai, Johannesburg, South Africa
Various stakeholders across the education fraternity have raised serious concerns over the current learner dropout rate.
According to the stakeholders, many learners didn’t go back to school when the schools reopened about two months ago after a partial suspension due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“We really need to make a dent on the number of dropouts. To date, only 60 percent of learners have gone back to school. Disengagement is the main reason why some of the learners didn’t go back to school which includes migration, socioeconomic issues, fear, worry, trauma and violence amongst others.
However, we have been talking about reintegration which includes a lot of psycho social support from the government,” said Zero Dropout Campaign Programme Director, Merle Mansfield.
Equal Education’s General Secretary, Noncedo Madubedube further commented on the issue of financial impediments that the sector is currently facing.
“There is no contingency plan if South Africa goes into another second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The recovery curriculum is likely to take two to three years which is quite fair but there isn’t adequate teaching due to things like rotational teaching and money lost due to the current COVID-19 pandemic like reallocating it to the South African National Defense Force, as a result, over 1 000 projects have been halted due to budgetary constrains,” said Madubedube.
However, spokesperson for the Department of Basic Education, Elijah Mhlanga said the overall attendance rate was around 90 percent.
“Not all learners have gone back to school but overall attendance is around 90 percent. Moreover, we are now using rotational teaching where some learners go in the morning and others in the evening.
We are still careful about returning all learners to school. COVID-19 is still there so some are still sceptical of coming into close contact. However, the number of learners that are not accounted for is troubling,” said Mhlanga.