The Zero Dropout campaign will reveal their findings on dropout prevention research. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)
The Zero Dropout campaign will reveal their findings on dropout prevention research. Picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency(ANA)

Zero Dropout Campaign launch inaugural Action summit on school dropout prevention

By Zodidi Dano Time of article published Sep 28, 2021

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The school dropout rate has been highlighted as one of the biggest challenges in the education sector, which has now been escalated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This is now necessitating schools to take immediate action to get learners back into the classroom. But it’s not going to be easy without a recommended school-led dropout prevention plan to light the path.

On Tuesday, the Zero Dropout Campaign launched its inaugural Action Summit. The summit is a launchpad for change, offering a recommended dropout prevention plan and tool kits for all schools.

The nationally representative NIDS-CRAM survey found that an additional 500 000 learners are out of school compared to pre-pandemic figures. It’s unclear whether they are permanent school-leavers or temporary non-attendance learners, but some researchers are concerned that the ripple effect of disrupted learning will be felt over the next 10 years.

The Action Summit is a free virtual event for schools and stakeholders in the basic education sector. Speakers include researchers and experts working with the Department of Basic Education (DBE).

Programme Director of the Zero Dropout Campaign Merle Mansfield said: “Many no-fee schools — accounting for roughly 80% of the country’s schools — are hampered by resource challenges. To help direct these schools, and others, to deal effectively with learner dropout, we are launching tool kits of best practice later this month.”

The Action Summit is taking place at a time when school dropout is the highest in 20 years, according to researchers.

Although many educators are trying their best to retain and re-engage learners using various tactics and strategies, Mansfield said that with a recommended plan of action, these schools may be in a better position to achieve the following goals by the end of the year:

• Schools must ensure that every learner who was registered at the beginning of 2021 is accounted for

• Schools have up-to-date contact details for all registered learners and their primary caregivers

• Schools are using dropout prevention tools to create systems of support for their learners.

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