Eastern Cape’s shocking learner drop-out rate

Eastern Cape’s shocking learner drop-out rate

Over the past three academic years, 221 626 Eastern Cape learners have disappeared between their Grade 10 enrolment and their final matric exams.

That’s enough to fill the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium five times over!

In an increasingly competitive world, a solid educational foundation is a necessity, and even more so in the jobs scarce Eastern Cape, where the latest unemployment stats have risen to 47,9%.

How can the Eastern Cape Department of Education (ECDoE) claim to be providing quality education to learners, if they can’t even keep them in school?

In a capable state, the system should uplift and empower individuals for a better tomorrow.

The numbers speak for themselves.

  • In 2016, 148 346 learners enrolled in Grade 10, but only 65 733 wrote their matric finals in 2018. That means 82 613 learners didn’t make it.
  • In 2017, the Grade 10 enrolment was 139 962, while only 63 198 learners wrote their 2019 exams. That’s an additional 76 764 learners who didn’t make it.
  • In 2018, the Grade 10 enrolment was 135 175, but only 72 926 wrote their final exams. That’s a further 62 249 learners who didn’t make it.

When taking the Grade 10 enrolment into consideration, the real matric pass rate for the EC is a dismal 36,76%.

In sharp contrast, 55,82% of the Western Cape Grade 10 class of 2018 passed their matric finals in 2020, the best performance in the country. This is because in the DA-run Western Cape a concerted effort is made to provide the necessary support to learners and reduce dropout rates.

The Eastern Cape dropout rates could in part be attributed to overcrowding, lack of appropriate sanitation and infrastructure, lack of sufficient scholar transport, and insufficient qualified teachers to teach critical subjects.

Sadly, there is no evidence that the ECDoE has made any efforts to track these learners, to reach out to them and understand why they dropped out, or to work to bring them back into the system.

The ECDoE has failed these learners.

I will be submitting questions to Education MEC, Fundile Gade, requesting that he provides a detailed report on what the ECDoE is doing to address these astronomical drop-out rates.

I will also be tabling a motion in the Legislature to compel the ECDoE to track learners that have dropped out, assess the specific causes for the learners leaving school, and provide the necessary interventions, alongside other Departments such as Social Development, to reintegrate these learners.

We will never be able to address the rising youth unemployment in this province if we do not first address the systemic failures within the ECDoE.