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Cape Town -
The Western Cape government plans to spend R1 million on a pupil retention study, which will help to identify causes of the “high dropout rate”.
The announcement was made by Finance MEC Alan Winde during his budget speech.
Western Cape Education Department spokesman Paddy Attwell said the conventional way of assessing retention was to compare Grade 1 enrolment to enrolment in Grade 12, 12 years later.
“The measure is not ideal because it does not take into account the number of learners who transfer to Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges after Grade 9. About 11 500 students without matric enrolled in substantive courses in FET Colleges in the Western Cape last year.”
Attwell said enrolment in grades R to 9 was normally fairly stable. “Most learners who drop out leave school in grades 10 to 12. Retention has improved in the Western Cape in these grades since 2009, from 57 percent during the period 2009 to 2011, to 61 percent in 2010/12 and 63 percent in 2011/13.”
He said that while this improvement was welcomed, more had to be done to ensure retention in grades 10 to 12 and more matric passes with good results.
“While dropping out occurs mainly in grades 10 to 12, we have to look at learner movement at all levels to understand the factors involved.”
Attwell said the department planned to commission an in-depth study to inform its strategies to improve pupil retention in the province.
The department introduced a pupil tracking system in 2006 that has been providing information on the movement of every pupil through the system.