NPOs to create virtual support spaces to reduce the rate of school dropouts in SA

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School dropout should not be understood as a single event.
School dropout should not be understood as a single event.

The Zero Dropout Campaign by the DG Murray Trust (DGMT) is committed to reducing the rate of school dropout in South Africa and is now urging non-profit organisations (NPOs) to revise their dropout preventative strategies to respond to the long-term effects of the lockdown.

The campaign, via its partner NPOs, previously used Dropout prevention strategies such as the "check and connect" model which paired disengaged learners with caring mentors, as well as the "dropout catchers" model, where volunteering community members visited learners at home whenever they're absent from school. 

Due to the restrictions put into place to stop the spread of coronavirus, these strategies must be urgently adjusted.

"We encourage NPOs to sustain contact with learners during the lockdown by using phone calls or WhatsApp groups where applicable to create virtual supportive spaces," says Zero Dropout Campaign Programme Director, Merle Mansfield. 

School dropout should not be understood as a single event

Research conducted by the DG Murray Trust (DGMT) revealed that school dropout should not be understood as a single event, but rather as a process of disengagement — a cumulative, multidimensional occurrence caused by the convergence of various factors over time.

And a lack of support in the home environment has been identified as a massive contributor to the national rate of school dropouts. 

"In the absence of mentors, role models and tutors, at-risk learners simply don't have access to support structures that would help them overcome their learning hurdles," says Mansfield. 

An additional cause for concern

The Programme Director also highlights the "spike in domestic violence complaints" during the lockdown period as an additional cause for concern. 

"News reports about a spike in domestic violence complaints suggests that children in troubled homes need psychosocial support services during the lockdown."

In light of these troubling factors, the Zero Dropout Campaign is calling on NPOs to leverage their community connections by asking them to check in with children at home and, most importantly, to report suspected abuse to crisis helplines.

"It's important that communities take collective ownership of the problem of dropout by creating supportive networks to help learners during this time," Mansfield concludes.

Read more about this initiative by visiting the DG Murray Trust website

Compiled for Parent24 by Lesley-Anne Johannes

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