The Basic Education Department says it is anticipating an increase in dropout rates due to extended school closures this year.
It made a presentation in Parliament this week when it raised concerns over thousands of learners who had not yet returned to school especially in KwaZulu-Natal.
The department says around 38 000 Grade 7 learners and 18 000 matriculants in that province could drop out of school.
However, Co-Head of Research at Equal Education, Roné McFarlane, says the department should have presented concrete projections instead of what she terms vague figures.
“We know dropout rates are huge concerns in South Africa under normal circumstances only about 50% of the learners who enter the system eventually obtain the matric certificate. So you have about half of the learners who don’t complete their school career. Crisis like extended school closures are likely to contribute to increases in drop out rates however the extent of that drop out rate is probably still very unclear at this moment,” says McFarlane.
McFarlane explains why is it important for learners to stay at school.
“There are various benefits for learners to stay at school and to stay connected to the school community, learners access psychosocial support at school, learners can be more vulnerable abuse if they stay at home for long and an increase in teenage pregnancies as a result of extended closures,” says McFarlane.