Almost every young person in South Africa starts school. But, from the moment we enter a Grade 1 classroom, the odds of success are stacked against us. Because of the enormous challenges we face along the way, only four out of every ten Grade 1’s reaches and passes Grade 12. Most of us who enrol in colleges and universities don’t get the support we need to complete our qualifications.
Leaving school, college or university without a qualification makes it nearly impossible for us to show our capabilities. This locks us out of education, training and work opportunities.
Most employers see educational qualifications as the most trustworthy way to assess our knowledge and skills. This is why completing qualifications and having the certificates to prove it, matters for our futures.
Catch Us Up.
A strong catch-up strategy includes supporting those of us in school but not on track on our learning journey, as well as finding ways to re-engage us when we drop out – whether at basic or tertiary education; and offering us opportunities to re-enter ongoing education or training so that we can stay on track.
Ensuring that we are equipped with strong foundational skills like literacy, numeracy and writing is essential to grasp new material. Educators must also be able to identify when we aren’t keeping up, and provide the right types of resources and support to bring us up to speed.
Make Us Count.
Tracking our attendance, behaviour and academic performance gives our parents and our educators early warning when we’re falling behind; triggering the right support, at the right time to bring us up to speed.
There is currently no way to track young students as we make our way through the basic education system and different phases of our vocational training; certainly not in real time. This makes it impossible to spot problems and provide us with the right support, or assess whether interventions are working.
Schools, colleges, universities and government departments must focus on keeping us in education; and track our progress consistently, to measure their success.
Support Us Beyond the Classroom.
Our ability to complete our education goes far beyond what happens in the classroom. The social, family and economic pressures we face are just as important in contributing to our success as our academic performance or the quality of teaching we receive.
Many of us don’t have the financial resources we need to make it through school, college or university. Beyond financial burdens, the environments in which we learn are also vital to our success in education. Culture shock, poor quality teaching, social exclusion, bullying, as well as physical and mental illness can make it even more difficult to finish our qualifications. We need wrap-around support that includes financial assistance, resources to learn, a nurturing learning environment, as well as psychosocial and community support.