By Umamah Bakharia
South Africa is failing thousands of children who drop out of school before finishing Grade 12. UNICEF has released country-level data on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on children, warning that many are at risk of dropping out.
UNICEF noted that as the pandemic enters its third year, there is a need to get children into classrooms and provide them with the intensive support they need to recover.
Speaking to Radio Islam, the head of Communications and Advocacy for the Zero Dropout Campaign, Rahima Essop, says the country is not doing enough to help students fall through the schooling system’s cracks.
“This is a pre-pandemic problem, covid-19 has obviously exacerbated the factors that typically cause these engagements and dropouts,” says Essop.
She adds: “as we enter the third year of the pandemic [and as] things start to return to normal, we need to get our learners back into the classroom.”
According to statistics, dropouts come at the end of disengagement.
The ‘Zero Dropout Campaign’ advises that there are things that parents or guardians can do to intervene to prevent a learner from dropping out.
Early warnings systems are the first line of defence in the campaign against dropouts by keeping records of individual learners to inadequately deal with dropout rates in the country.
“We need to improve our data collection and monitoring physically at [the] school level, we need to strengthen psychosocial support so that learners get the right type of psychological and also educational support and we need to make the prevention of dropout an explicit goal of our schooling system,” says Essop.
There are three factors to monitor dropouts: academic performance, absenteeism and behavioural issues.
The Zero Dropout Campaign is encouraging schools to monitor the signs so that the rates of children dropping out of school can decrease.