Ramaphosa raises concern over learner dropouts, grade repeats

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed concern over the persistently high rates of learner dropouts and repetition, urging stakeholders within the education sector to intensify their efforts in tackling these issues.

Ramaphosa was addressing the opening of the 2024 Basic Education Sector Lekgotla Conference taking place at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg on Thursday.

Education lekgotla

The 2024 Basic Education Sector Lekgotla is themed “Equipping learners with knowledge and skills for a changing world”. It aims to deepen the understanding of advancements made within the sector. This with a special focus on developments achieved over the last decade.

“With a sense of achievement, we report our progress towards universal access to basic education. It currently stands at an impressive 98%,” he said in his virtual address.

“However, dropout and repetition rates are still unacceptably high. I have spoken about this to you all in the past. And I have urged all of us to work hard to reduce the dropout rates as well as to attend to the repetition rates.”

Poverty and social ills

The president highlighted poverty, youth criminality, teenage pregnancy, and general violence in some communities. He said they are some of the reasons for these high rates.

Ramaphosa also blamed factors such as the burden placed on young people to look after their aged parents and grandparents. He said this was also contributing to learner dropout and repetition.

Ramaphosa told the lekgotla that government is actively pursuing policies to try to address the obstacles. These are obstacles hindering progress in basic education.

Pro-poor policies

“As the government, we have continued to pursue pro-poor policies. We do so to systematically tackle the multifaceted factors impeding progress in basic education. These policies encompass the establishment of non-fee-paying schools. Indeed, 80% of schools in our country do not require fees.

“Moreover, more than 9.6 million children benefit from the national school nutrition programme and free textbooks. Also scholar transport, and child support grants provided by the Department of Social Development.”

Ramaphosa commended numerous efforts aimed at offering educational assistance in areas with the highest need.

He said these concerted efforts signify the government’s commitment to enhancing the educational landscape of South Africa. This is ensuring that every child has the opportunity to succeed, irrespective of their background.

Mandela’s vision

“By addressing these challenges head-on, we reaffirm our dedication to fulfilling Mandela’s vision. That of education as the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.

“We aim to prepare every child in our country for success in a rapidly evolving global context.

“Our commitment is demonstrated through the Three-Stream Curriculum Model. It incorporates technical, vocational, and occupational subjects into basic education. This aligns with the nation’s skill requirements and economic objectives. It’s moving beyond traditional academic subjects to expand learners’ prospects,” he said.

Ramaphosa said in the coming year, the government is poised to expand the occupational stream into the Further Education and Training Phase. This is a testament to the government’s resolve to ensure that no learner is left behind, he said.

Early childhood development

He further emphasised that early childhood development (ECD) is a key priority for the government.

On the importance of mother tongue language, he said it is the cornerstone of the “essential reforms we undertake in basic education”. He added that it speaks to the “broader imperative of decolonising education”.

Ramaphosa said this goes beyond merely ensuring that children can read with comprehension. He said it is a vital component of government’s commitment to educational transformation.

  • SAnews.gov.za

Visit SW YouTube Channel for our video content

Latest News