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Cape Town - Just over 30 percent of children aged seven to 18 in the Western Cape who are not attending school gave “education is useless” as the reason for not being in class. The figure nationally was 11.3 percent.
This was one of the findings of the 2012 General Household Survey, which was recently released by Stats SA.
Other reasons given for Western Cape children not attending school include:
* Financial difficulties: 15.4 percent
* Working: 8.6 percent
* Family commitment: 9.7 percent
* Completed education: 13. 6 percent
* Unable to perform: 3.9 percent
* Not accepted for enrolment: 3. 8 percent
The survey shows that in terms of attendance by province, 93.9 percent of seven-to-18-year-olds in the Western Cape were attending school, compared with 97.8 percent in Limpopo, 96 percent in the Free State, and 95.7 percent in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
In the Western Cape 100 percent of Indian/Asian pupils were attending educational institutions, compared to 98.4 percent white, 95 percent black African and 92.3 percent coloured.
Paddy Attwell, spokesman for the Western Cape Education Department, said the department was concerned about the percentage of children who felt that education was useless.
“The finding needs further research, but it is not difficult to understand in context. Youth employment is higher in three of our four rural districts compared to Cape Town, and significantly higher than national youth employment figures. This suggests that many youths in rural areas are working on farms.”
Attwell said the department was implementing strategies to ensure pupil retention.
“Our first priority is to ensure that primary school children acquire a solid foundation in literacy and numeracy. We are implementing a comprehensive literacy and numeracy strategy that is making a difference and will contribute to improving the retention rate in high schools in the long term.”
Attwell said the department employed safety fieldworkers in each district who deal with truancy, among other issues.
“They visit truants and their families and help to develop appropriate support. Our officials, including social workers, work with colleagues in Social Development and Health (department) on other issues identified by the survey, including family responsibilities and illness that prevent learners from attending school.”
He said education was free in schools in quintiles 1 to 3, the three poorest categories of schools. Parents who could not afford school fees in fee-paying schools could apply for exemption or partial exemption, based on their annual income.