By Khume Ramulifho MPL, DA Gauteng Education Shadow MEC:
In a motion submitted in the Gauteng Legislature yesterday, the DA proposed that stricter laws be put in place regarding the tracking of learner enrolment in the province to avoid high drop-out rate. In 2014 Gauteng schools experienced almost 100 000 learner drop-outs, 70 000 in secondary school and 23 000 in primary schools.
Despite 2000 schools in 2014/15 target to use the South African School Administration Management System (SA SAMS) – budgeted at R 18 million – to provide learner data to the national learner tracking system – only 1025 schools are currently able to track learner transfers.
Furthermore, the assumption that most learners who drop out then enrol at FET colleges is both callous and can be avoided. Particularly because learner enrolment at FET colleges doesn’t correspond with the high number of learners who have dropped out.
It is imperative that Gauteng Education, MEC Panyaza Lesufi and his department make it compulsory for all learners in Gauteng to register their South African identity numbers with the Department at the beginning of each school year, starting from the earliest grade of enrolment.
Creating a database by the provincial education department with learners ID numbers will allow for effective tracking of learners throughout their school careers. This system will also monitor drop-out rates as well as ensuring effective measures to prevent drop-outs which will lead to improved learner retention and prevent fraud through the artificial inflation of school numbers.
It is time the education department take responsibility were it concerns school enrolment. With Gauteng as the economic hub of the country, education is a key priority in ensuring that it stays that way. We need to use the mechanisms, like the allocated budget to ensure that targets like the tracking of school enrolments are a norm in our education system.
This will make it easy to enforce laws compelling all children below the age of 15 of school going age are at school learning. The department has an obligation to afford all children of school going age freedom to attend school. They deserve opportunity to fairly compete and improve their life.