Exciting New Project Tackles School Dropout
Contributor: Andrew Hartnack
SLF has been granted funding to play a crucial role in building a community of best practice around the important issue of school dropout. The DG Murray Trust has recently initiated the ‘Tackling School Dropout Initiative’, through which it is funding nine organisations, working in four provinces, to pilot innovative approaches addressing school dropout during the course of 2017.
School dropout is a major problem in South Africa’s 20 000 under-resourced schools, with only a small fraction of those who commence school even making it to Grade 12, let alone writing matric. It has been found that having a matric certificate fundamentally improves the chances of finding employment, while those who drop out before this often struggle to put together adequate livelihoods. Foundational learning in poor schools in South Africa is grossly inadequate, meaning that two-thirds of learners are behind on key numeracy and literacy milestones by Grade 4. These academic shortfalls, coupled with other social and economic pressures (challenging home environment, teen pregnancy, gangsterism etc.), lead to the unacceptably high dropout levels which peak in grades 10 and 11.
The nine organisations funded by the DGMT will apply different approaches to address school dropout in high schools in a range of contexts. Led by Dr Andrew Hartnack, SLF’s role will be to research and evaluate these approaches, playing the role of a ‘thinking partner’ to these organisations as they pilot effective ways to keep at-risk learners in school and on-track to successfully completing their schooling. SLF will be conducting research in 20 schools to learn first-hand about these interventions and what potential impacts they can make in the lives of at-risk learners. We will be sharing more about this process and its results throughout 2017!