Principals Upfront explores the school dropout crisis

The first Principals Upfront Dialogue of 2022 focused on deepening understanding of the crisis of school dropout and its causes, and shared strategies and resources to identify and support at-risk learners and strengthen parent-school communication.

Rahima Essop of the DG Murray Trust’s Zero Dropout Campaign unpacked some of the many push and pull factors that make learners vulnerable to dropping out. She emphasised that learners who drop out do not do so because they are disinterested in school – and that dropout comes at the end of a long process of disengagement.  Rahima shared a range of strategies and resources that schools can use to identify and support at-risk learners, many of these relating to the Yethu Programme as the vehicle for the Zero Dropout Campaign in schools.  

Effective school-parent communication plays an important role in reducing failure and dropout rates – and technology is an important enabler of effective communication. This aspect was addressed by Themba Mbele, the founder and CEO of the Mzali App, which is a communication and monitoring tool for parents. The App deepens parents’ connection with their child’s learning by enabling them to monitor attendance (a key early warning indicator of potential dropout), schoolwork and academic performance. 

The panellists amplified the value of the Dialogue by sharing their on-the-ground experience. Principal Nozuko Gloria Vuba of Monde Primary School highlighted the need to provide a supportive environment, accommodate a range of learner abilities and interests, build resilience and promote holistic development. Jabulile Mazibuko, a senior mentor with the National Association of Child Care Workers (NACCW), stressed the value of using a multisectoral approach to support at-risk learners, involving professionals and proven models and practices, as well as the need for accountability. A critical factor in making dropout interventions work is the ability to listen to learners themselves. 

Links to resources and tools can be found in the Meeting Highlights. Click here