Grim outlook as kids miss schooling
Tens of thousands of teenagers face an uncertain future. Research shows that in 2009 one in five South Africans aged 16 to 18 is not going to school.
A report published by the Basic Education Department last week showed that in that year about 17% of children in that age group were not attending a school, college or university.
The research, from 2002 to 2009, is based on Stats SA's annual general household survey of nearly 30000 homes.
It showed that a third of coloured children in this age group, 20.3% of Indian children, 15.4% of black children and 13.4% of white children were not at school
Most children blamed poverty for not being at school. Some said education was "useless or not interesting" or that they had failed to do well at school.
Teenage pregnancy was also a big problem, causing 6.1% of children interviewed not to attend school.
The report said 71364 schoolgirls became pregnant from 2008 to 2009.
Education expert Graeme Bloch expressed concern about the poor functioning of the schooling system.
"Probably a lot of them [16- to 18-year-olds who are not in school] are sitting around, unemployed," said Bloch.
"The bottom line [is] that there would be less of them if the schooling system were functioning."
About 91.5% of children aged 16 to 18 in Limpopo attended school, but the figures were only 73.4% in Northern Cape and 73.7% in Western Cape.
The report said more than 98% of children of the compulsory school-going age of seven to 15 (except those who had completed Grade 9) attended school in 2009.
Ruksana Osman, head of the Wits School of Education, was concerned that "we don't know where these out-of-school youths are".
Osman said children might not be going to school because they had to work to support their family.
"It could be that they are not coping and [that] dropping out is their only option," she said.
Basic Education Department spokesman Panyaza Lesufi said the department was concerned about children aged 16 to 18 who were not attending an educational institutions.
"But we are aware that a significant percentage of 17- and 18-year-olds have completed grade 12."
Lesufi said the department was trying to promote greater interest in schooling, which included providing workbooks to pupils in grades 1 to 6, and reducing the administrative workload of teachers.