A report released by the Department of Basic Education and Statistics South Africa last year indicates that the ‘survival rate’ per 1 000 students was around 520, meaning that the drop-out rate was closer to 48%.
To help learners in Vhembe stay in school, four young people from Limpopo got together and established a non-profit foundation. Rotangana Foundation, which means ‘come together’ in vhiVenda seeks to link underprivileged learners to many opportunities outside their district.
Ntsieni Sirwali who is the Chairman of the foundation said “Our ward has high levels of poverty, which leads to many learners dropping out of school and ending up homeless and involved in crime. With the country on lockdown since March 2020, the situation became more dire. We had to do something”.
Since then, Sirwali and his team embarked on a food donation drive after identifying needy families. “We rely on donations from ourselves, other community members and local businesses. We offer academic support to learners through the distribution of school stationery such as books, uniforms and study materials, especially at primary and secondary schools,” he said.
The foundation also helps matriculants fill in online applications for admission at institutions of higher learning. “Internet access is an issue in our rural areas. We try and help matriculants to apply online for admission, bursaries and scholarships,” added Sirwali.
Furthermore, Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga last year confirmed that more than300 000 children dropped out of primary schools across South Africa over a six-month period, including during the national lockdown.Data from the report also indicates that high school learners had the highest number of drop-outs. Grade 11 showed a 24.08% of drop-out rate, followed by Grade 10 with 14.84%.
Sirwali, a university graduate himself said “it is important for youth to get a sound education. “Education is the pillar of success in our communities. We want to make education fashionable to enable our youth to help improve the current state of livelihood in the area.”