More than 2500 School Dropouts in One Year

• Truancy, pregnancy and poverty to blame

More than 2500 School Dropouts in One Year
(Pic: MONIRUL BHUIYAN/PRESS PHOTO)

Botswana adopted the philosophy of development with the framework of education as a right for all children. According to a 2020 UNESCO publication, Botswana is among countries with the highest education expenditure in the world, which is estimated at 9 percent of GDP.

It is estimated that 90 percent of universal primary school education is provided free of charge. This, however, is done with the view that the current funding of pupils is an investment and will be recouped in levies and taxes that will be charged on the educated population in future.

Whilst most people understand the heavy yoke that students place around their own neck when they drop out of school, few appreciate that the impact of school dropouts goes far beyond the concerned individuals. An American research institute, Alliance for Excellence, in a study done on the American population, concluded that huge numbers of school dropouts influence a community’s economic, social and civic health.

When dropouts are many, both national and local revenues suffer. This is because most of the education in Botswana is government funded. It should be noted that secondary school ownership in Botswana is mainly in three forms, public schools owned and run by the government, government aided schools and privately owned institutions.

Government operates 81.7 percent while government-aided institutions and private institutions contribute the remaining 1.4 percent and 16.9 percent respectively. There is a need therefore to ensure that the high expenditure on education is justified.

Data released through an Annual School Census by Education Statistics Botswana shows that most secondary school dropouts in Botswana are recorded at the junior secondary school level. The recent publication shows that an average of 2751 students dropped out of school in a single year. Out of the total 2751 students who dropped out of school, 1237 were males whilst 1514 were female.

Most of the dropouts were recorded in the Central District, accounting for over a third of total school dropouts. Of the total school dropouts, 1963 were Forms 1, 2 and 3.

The data also reveals that most of the school dropouts are female. This could be attributed to early marriage whilst dropouts for males could be as a result of poverty as schools going children seek employment at a premature age. However, it must be noted that the school dropout rate is generally higher at lower levels and declines as the levels go up.

The main reason observed for dropping out was truancy, a situation where children are absent from school without any reasonable excuse. A total of 1627 of the 2751 school dropouts were due to truancy. This represents 59 percent of the total number of dropouts. A staggering 23.3 percent of school dropouts was due to pregnancy. Given that the pregnancy figure applies only to female students, the rate becomes unacceptably high. Other contributory reasons for dropping out of school were substance abuse, religion, poor performance and bullying.

When dropouts are employed, they tend to earn, on average, far less than graduates and thus pay less in taxes. Furthermore, an educated population tends to be more compliant in terms of revenue remittances as risks and benefits are properly analyzed. There is therefore a need to address the issue of school dropouts so that they do not remain a burden on the fiscus in the long-term.

This article was prepared by Data Collection & Analysis, a business research firm. Feedback or inquiries can be relayed to 767 406 58.