Provinces assessing dropout rate due to Covid-19 impact, says Motshekga
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Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga says provinces were assessing the number of learners who had dropped out of school since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The minister said the verification of learner dropout rates was complicated as it was crucial to distinguish between learners who had left schooling and those who were absent due to multiple reasons.
She was replying to a Parliamentary question from the EFF.
"The verification process has to be carefully executed for a number of reasons so that learners are not counted as drop-outs when that is not the case. Some schools follow a weekly rotation timetabling; learner attendance is marked when it is a learner's turn to come to school," she said.
“In some cases, learners are absent for an extended period of time, and this may erroneously be interpreted as a drop-out. Some learners are physically at school, but are either learning virtually from home or are participating in home education programmes. As provinces are verifying learner drop-out statistics, they need to consider these issues, which may be construed as drop-out.”
Motshekga said the department and districts were following up on learners who had been absent from school.
“To minimise learner drop-out, at the national level, the Quality of Learning and Teaching Campaign (QLTC) is the most effective instrument that is being used, to engage with all relevant stakeholders, including but not limited to parents, schools and local authorities,” she said.
Last week, Motshekga insisted that the education system was stable despite a harsh pandemic disruption.
A survey conducted on learning and the impact of the pandemic shows a loss of learning time for a number of learners.
Professor Martin Gustafsson, from Stellenbosch University, said so far this year, about 50% of schooling has been lost. The biggest impact has been observed in the foundation phase.
Areas in the country that have been largely been affected included the Free State and the Eastern Cape - with the worst attendance records.
Gustafsson said in poor communities, the impact of the pandemic has been largely felt, and the concern was that if children were not in contact with teachers, large amounts of schooling was lost.
School intake numbers have also not been spared. The intake numbers for learners aged 4 to 6 were lower by 25 000 in 2021 than they should have been. For learners in Grade R and 1, the intake has dropped.
Another concern was (the intake) of children aged 7 to 14 was lower by 10 000. In ages 15 and above, not much of a difference was observed Gustafsson said.