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More than 2 400 grade 10 to 12 pupils dropped out of school in the first half of the school year, a decrease compared to previous years.
In a written reply to the Independent Democratic Party’s Rodney Lentit, Education MEC Donald Grant said that on average 5 285 pupils in these three grades dropped out in 2010 and 2011.
In the first half of this year, 2 474 grade 10, 11 and 12 pupils dropped out.
Statistics for the full school year of 2010 showed that 10 475 pupils in the three grades had dropped out whereas 10 666 dropped out last year.
“If the current drop-out rate is sustained, it can be projected that the ratio will be much lower at the end of the year than in previous years.
“However, it might be practical to anticipate an increased drop-out rate in the second half of the year due to learners not coming back after the first semester or the academic year becoming challenging,” Grant said.
Lentit said he was concerned about the number of drop-outs.
He said this was a serious yet sensitive matter in most cases.
“ It is therefore imperative that parents and learners need to be counselled and interacted with by the department to try and determine the reasons why drop-outs occur.
“This information should then be presented to the standing committee on education in order to find ways to reduce the drop-out rate.”
Professor Maureen Robinson, dean of the faculty of education at Stellenbosch University, said: “We need to look at whether specific interventions had been particularly successful to help improve the retention rate.”
Grant’s spokeswoman, Bronagh Casey, said it was also pleasing that the retention rate from Grade 1 to matric was also showing improvement.
Of the 97 854 pupils who entered Grade 1 in 1997, about 45 396, or 46.3 percent, enrolled for the National Senior Certificate (NSC) exams in 2008.
Of the 81 790 pupils who entered Grade 1 in 2001, about 45 719, or 55.8 percent, have enrolled for the NSC exams this year. - Cape Argus