(Johannesburg) At least 10,000 children in South Africa have dropped out of school since the coronavirus pandemic began, which has hit schools hard, the Ministry of Education said on Sunday.
Posted on Aug 29, 2021 at 11:57 am
Face-to-face classes have only partially resumed since schools reopened last June after more than two months of home schooling to contain the spread of COVID-19.
Public schools have again been closed for a short time – with a delayed start to the 2021 school year – and most students can still only attend classes on a rotation basis to avoid overcrowding.
The class interruptions have had an impact on school attendance; in 2021, according to preliminary figures from the Department of Basic Education (DBE), 10,000 fewer children between the ages of 7 and 14 were enrolled in school.
School enrollment was also 25,000 lower than expected for children between the ages of four and six.
“The unprecedented closings of our schools and the unforeseen interruptions in teaching and learning have resulted in a loss of the profits made over the past 20 years,” Motshekga said at a press conference.
Poor rural areas and townships with limited internet access have been hit hard.
“When children are not in contact with teachers, especially children from disadvantaged communities, learning does not go as it should,” said Martin Gustafsson, researcher at DBE, at the same press conference.
He added that elementary school children only attended class three days a week on average and have already missed half of their expected learning this year.
South Africa is the hardest-hit COVID-19 country on the continent, with more than 2.7 million cases and more than 81,000 deaths.
This country, whose economy was already in recession before the pandemic, introduced one of the toughest containments in the world in March 2020.
The vaccination campaign started laboriously in February. The country has so far vaccinated just over 14% of its 59 million residents.