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Bheki Dlamini
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Successful Dropout? There’s always more to that story!

13 May 2014, 07:34
I have come across yet another article about a college dropout that managed to succeed excessively in life. The feeling that I got from the article is that being a dropout is cool.

I am all for school dropouts that went and made a success of themselves. Well done to them!
You see, I wanted to drop out of school when my business ideas got the best of me, or was it my desperation? My school, Tswasongu Secondary School in Khutsong on the other hand, would have none of it and I am forever grateful for that.

After weeks of being absent from school, my teachers came marching to my parents’ house and ushered me back to school the very same day. I was told that should I attempt to dropout again they would have me arrested. Thank heavens I was pretty oblivious to the law back then, otherwise I would have become another statistic.

In reality, for every great story about a single individual that consciously dropped out of school and made a success of his life, there are thousands of school dropouts whose stories are only told in bulk when the matric results are released. 

Who gets to tell the story of desperation and hopelessness that leads the thousands to dropout? Who gets to glorify their undertakings when they leave school to feed their families? Have we become so complacent with these negative figures that we are only interested in the success stories of a few?

In this fast paced world, having a matric certificate doesn’t open many doors anymore. It appears being a tertiary graduate doesn’t do much good either. Or does it?
Well, it all drills down to the quality of the results that one obtains. No one wants to employ an average achiever.

The self-driven individuals that want more than just a certificate always get the best jobs. They prepare themselves for the workplace. They make it a point that they become irresistible to the employer. They sacrifice a lot in the process.

The same applies to the dropouts that become so successful in their lives. There’s always more to that story than we are often told. For most, the success stories are preceded by failure, heartache, sacrifices and numerous sleepless nights.

In a country where almost every skill is in short supply, we really need to contextualise our success stories. 

What about the story of the student that matriculated top of his class? When do we get to tell his story? Wouldn’t that inspire others to work just a little bit harder? Wouldn’t that be a way to improve the country’s skills pool? 

I have great respect for one of the most prominent dropouts of this world, Sir Richard Branson. He dropped out of school at the age of 16 and has gone and made a success of himself.  This is the only part of the story that we are regularly told, none of the failures that he has experienced are told.

There is always more behind a success story of a dropout. 
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