‘School dropout rate holds South Africa back’

There has been a decline in South Africans with no schooling from the ages 20 and above, a study by the Institute for Race Relations (IRR) has found.

But while the report has shown “vastly improving levels of access to education”, it also uncovers significant dropout rates at school and university level. This report, in reviewing South Africa’s educational foundations, found the proportion of South Africans aged

20 and above with no schooling declined from 11.6% in 2002 to 5.5% in 2013.

The proportion of those with matric increased from 29.8% to 38.8% and people with post-school education almost doubled from 3.7% to 6.9%.

Such progress, however, must be weighed against significant dropout rates, said IRR CEO Frans Cronje.

It was found some six or seven years ago, only half of children who enrolled in grade 1 would ever have the experience of sitting in a matric class.

“Of those fortunate enough to make it to matric, only half will write mathematics as a subject. Also, only one in four matric

pupils will pass maths with 50%

or higher.

“The same dropout pattern then applies to students enrolled in higher education,” Cronje said.

According to the report, the proportion of people aged between 20 and 24 enrolled in higher education increased from 15.4% in 2002 to 19.2% in 2012.

The head-count enrolment in universities had almost doubled since 1995 and the proportion of African students also increased from 50.2% in 1995 to 69.5% in 2012. “However, data shows 51% of students who enrol for 3- and 4-year degrees never graduate.

“Put plainly, if 10 children enrol in grade 1 in any given year, one can expect five of them to reach matric, three to pass, and at most, only one to pass maths with 50%.

“There is no better way to explain the damage the current school system causes to the life prospects of South Africa’s children and the reason why education policy reform is vitally needed.” – Staff reporter

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