As a firm specializing in market research and data analysis through surveys, feasibility studies, polls, among others, we hope to bring valuable insights through today’s article as we focus on the high number of secondary school dropouts which totalled 13 327 since 2014 and how this hurts the economy.
Statistics Botswana published a report in August 2022 titled ‘Secondary Education Stats Brief 2019’. The said report notes that a total of 13, 327 secondary school students dropped out of school since 2014. It further states that in 2019, female re-entrants constituted 66.2 percent of the total re-entrants. Most of the re-entrants; 26.4 percent were in Form 2 followed by those in Form 3 and Form 1 respectively. The purpose of the report, among other things, was to highlight the state of secondary schools in the areas of enrolment, performance, school ownership, teaching staff and other incidental issues affecting secondary school education. Although the aforementioned report provided comprehensive education statistics and information on secondary schools between the 2014 and 2019 years, we will focus on why school dropouts hurt the economy.
First of all, the government uses taxpayers’ money to build and operate schools, which comes at a cost to taxpayers. Therefore, the expectation is that when government finances the education of students, the economy benefits as its human resource base is strengthened after the students graduate. A drop-out is simply a loss of money used since the student started primary and that is a tacit tax leakage by itself. Secondly, the country needs an educated population in order for it to attract Foreign Direct Investment, which propels economies worldwide, Botswana included. Now, when secondary school students drop out of school, it simply shaves the number of graduates who could have economically contributed to the growth of the nation through skilled manpower.
Dropouts have difficulty finding jobs because they do not have the required qualifications. This, therefore, adds to the number of unemployed youths in the country. In the event that they get jobs, they earn less than their qualified peers, and mostly these are menial jobs. The consequences are usually that they get involved in activities such as drug-dealings, robberies, human trafficking among other crime-related activities in a bid to earn a living.
Why is this key?
The statistics stated above show that school drop-outs as a result of absence are higher as opposed to pregnancy. Females constituted a huge chunk of the droppers. Interestingly female repeaters and re-entrants were more than males. It is also important to note that in 2019, dropouts constituted 0.1% of the population in Botswana. This is key in that it assists schools and government to focus in particular on the girl secondary school learner, who is prone to drop out of school. Teen pregnancy also needs to be tackled to cure this ill.
Research is key
Whilst we have made it clear that the secondary school dropouts in Botswana are counteracted to some extent by re-entrants, some may never re-enter the education system once they drop out, hence the need for more research to focus on the reasons behind the drop-outs. Such research will inform policymakers on the relevant interventions to curb this social ill.
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