During the Covid-19 pandemic, the education sector has been negatively impacted, globally. This has led to learners leaving the schooling system and a high dropout rate in South African schools. This has affected the sector on a global scale.
In 2021, learners were exposed to a hybrid form of learning, switching between attending online and physical classes on a rotational basis.
The increasing school dropout rates are a crisis in South Africa, as a survey conducted by the National Income Dynamic Study – Coronavirus Rapid Mobile Survey (NIDS-CRAM) revealed that the school dropout rate tripled from 230 000 to 750 000 in May 2021.
This is a sign of the country’s school dropout rate deteriorating. Globally, 23 countries are yet to fully reopen and it has been reported that nearly 405 million school children have been affected.
In an interview with United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF), Deputy Regional Director of Eastern, and Southern Africa, Lieke Van de Wiel said:
Nobody realises how many kids globally, are still suffering. The reason is that countries still haven’t prioritized the opening of schools across the globe.
Van de Wiel added that this is very unequal. Uganda had closed its schools for almost two years and reopened for the 2022 academic year.
Since schools have been closed that long, experts say this has done damage to a large extent.
When it comes to younger kids, they have regressed in terms of their learning of skills and knowledge.
Van de Wiel explained that older learners are just not coming back because they have found alternative ways of spending the day, such as informal work or some have just lost the appetite of going back to school altogether.
Experts say the number of children set to drop out of school completely is bound to increase.
When the World Health Organisation hosted a briefing, it had been revealed how the girl child is disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, especially with the high dropout levels.
The absence of school support and other socio-economic needs were among the issues that result in learners dropping out.
It has been reported that Tanzania has opened a school for pregnant girls.
“It’s still quite a big leap to go back to school being pregnant or having a young child newborn,” added Van de Wiel.