Characteristics of Out-of-School Children of Compulsory School Age in South Africa: What the Community Survey 2007 shows
This paper uses the Community Survey 2007 data set to identify the characteristics of children of compulsory school age (seven to fifteen years of age) who are out of school, either because they have failed to enrol in school at all or because they have dropped out of school. This corresponds to children who fall into CREATE zones of exclusion 1 and 2. The paper looks at the situation nationally in South Africa, as well as at the provincial level in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape, and at the level of municipality in Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality in Gauteng and Mbhashe Local Municipality in Eastern Cape.
The analysis indicates that in the case study areas between 3.5% (Mbhashe) and 4.6% (Ekurhuleni) of children were not attending any educational institution. The Community Survey data indicates that about 386,000 children do not attend school in South Africa overall. The Community Survey 2007 illustrates much about children of compulsory school age who were out of school and corroborates findings of Fleisch et al (2009) and Hunt (2008) and suggest these factors are correlated with exclusion. Firstly, being disabled appears to be a substantial barrier to accessing education. Moreover, geographic location may exacerbate the problem as disabled children in the rural areas (Eastern Cape and Mbhashe) are far more likely to be out of school than disabled children in a more urban environment. The second major factor is household structure, with children living with biological parent more likely to be in school than those living in other family set-ups. Thirdly, poverty does appear to impact negatively on access to schooling with a higher proportion of children in poorer households more likely to be out of school than children in higher income households. Finally children who qualify for a social grant but whose families were unable to access these grants, appear more vulnerable when it comes to being enrolled in school.
Though only a small proportion of children are out of school, these children are most likely to be from very marginal groups who may need special targeting, Key options include firstly the provision of, and access to, education for children with special educational needs particularly for children in rural areas. Secondly, orphans, children living in child-headed households, children who head up households as well as children living in households that are headed by adults other than their parents or grandparents require specialised support from Social Development and Education Departments to help them cope with their circumstances. Thirdly, children who qualify for a social grant but are unable to access these grants need special assistance. Finally, more research is needed to understand in more detail why some children (e.g. coloured children) are disproportionately out of school.
CREATE Working Paper No 1, 37 pp.