Assistant Minister of Basic Education, Thato Kwerepe has told Parliament that 246 pupils from nine schools in the Gantsi constituency quit school in 2017. Kwerepe was answering a question from the area legislator, Noah Salakae.
The MP had asked the Minister to state the number of dropouts in all the seven primary schools and two secondary schools in his constituency for the year 2017. Salakae also wanted to know what the ministry is doing to address the situation.
“In 2017, in the seven primary schools in the Gantsi North, there were 174 children who dropped out of school. Of these, 77 were female and 97 were males. So far, 65 have returned to school. In the same year, for the two secondary schools, 72 learners dropped out of which 32 were females and 40 were males. Of that number, 22 have returned to school,” Kwerepe said.
Furthermore, Kwerepe explained that his ministry works with the community, Social Services Department and parents to raise awareness of the issue. They also assist learners rejoin the system.
“The initiatives include Guidance and Counselling teachers in schools run programmes to educate students about the importance of completing their school education; Parents and Teachers Association meetings and Kgotla meetings are being addressed to counsel parents about the importance of education,” he said.
On another level, the ministry also engaged Local Government and Rural Development ministry to conduct farm visits to address farmers and farm workers on the importance of allowing children to attend school properly. He said his ministry participates in Circles of Support programmes that track dropouts and return them to school.
“We work with NGOs [Non Governmental Organisations] such as Window of Hope in Gantsi Township, to address the issue of school dropouts. However, it was apparent from the data that we need to improve Hostel care for our learners, and to also look into alternative ways of providing education to small remote communities to ensue the proper implementation of our Inclusive Education Policy,” he said. Supplementing his questions, Salakae asked the Minister if any of the cases were due to pregnancy and whether there were any cases of defilement against the recorded pregnancies. In response, Kwerepe said he did not have statistics stating that all defilement cases are referred to the police for investigations and prosecution.
According to the breakdown, D’Kar Primary School had the most dropouts at 82 followed by Kuke Primary School at 58 cases and Itekeng Junior Secondary School at 50. Gantsi Primary School and Kabakae Primary School reported no cases in the period under review.
Schools in the Gantsi region have over the years been producing poor results at all three levels. This was said to be due to parents staying and working in farms where children follow them, never to return to school.