Close to 70 000 learners have disappeared from the Eastern Cape’s enrolment register between April and August this year, but despite this worrying trend, there seems to be no plan in place to address this, or even a sense of urgency to do so.
I am deeply concerned as to what is happening to these learners, given the social ills in our society. They cannot simply be abandoned.
In response to a written question, Education MEC Fundile Gade, revealed that the number of learners registered in schools in the province dropped from 1 827 000 in April 2022 to 1 758 796 in August 2022.
This means that 68 204 learners who were registered in the 2nd term, were no longer registered at the start of the 3rd term.
The figures provided by MEC Gade further revealed that 4 767 learners had absconded since the beginning of the year, and 38, 854 learners had dropped out. Dropout rates were highest among learners at secondary school, which accounted for 26 205 of the total.
When asked if the Department had traced to determine the reasons the learners had dropped out, MEC Gade revealed only 7 551 dropouts had been traced.
This means more than 80% of learners who dropped out of school have been left to their own devices.
Asked what steps have been taken with the view to assisting these learners in returning to the Education system, the MEC replied that the Department does not trace learners after they have left school.
The responses show the uncaring attitude of the Department towards the education of children in this province.
Learners who drop out of school should be assisted in any way, by all departments, to return to the schooling system and obtain an education.
The DA has previously called on the Department to put together a programme, in collaboration with other departments, to track learners who have dropped out, assess the reason why they have done so, and work actively to reintegrate learners back into the education system.
However, when this motion was put to the Eastern Cape Legislature, the ANC majority rejected it.
The lack of proper administrative processes, management, and leadership under MEC Gade, has been the cause of thousands of Eastern Cape learners not obtaining an education.