Matric results reveal the need to improve formative education.

RELEASE DATE: 24 January 2024

With the announcement of the latest matric results by the Department of Basic Education, many of us prematurely welcomed a pass rate of 82.9% overall. However, this statistic does not reflect the number of students that dropped out from school entirely before making it to matric. According to DBE, 1.2 million students started school (grade 1) in 2012 and within the same cohort 715 719 full time matriculants registered for exams; indicating that 490,000 learners dropped out in this cohort alone.

Working with early childhood development (ECD) centres and schools in under-resourced communities, Khulisa Social Solutions indicates that this high dropout rate is a result of literacy challenges in a child’s formative educational years (0 – 10 years old).

According to literacy statistics, most children leave grade one without knowing the alphabet, while 82% of grade 4 children cannot read for meaning. “If a child remains functionally illiterate by the age of 10, there is evidence to suggest that they will remain illiterate or experience severe learning difficulties. This significantly increases the chances of dropping out. Unfortunately, many parents in these impoverished communities, cannot afford the remedial lessons that their children need,” says Lesley Ann van Selm, managing director of Khulisa.

“Within the Rustenburg community where we run our school programmes, we have identified a number of factors that inhibits a child’s ability to learn and become literate. These schools deal with poor infrastructure, a lack of educational resources and little funding. Outside of their school environment, these children contend with hunger, crime and prevalent substance abuse among their peers. These circumstances make it near impossible for children to focus on their learning,” shares van Selm.

To bridge the learning gap in these under-resourced and impoverished communities, Khulisa has partnered with youth@WORK, to provide a screening service for ECD centres. This project will train and employ youth to facilitate a screening service, online courses and holiday programmes to increase basic literacy and numeracy skills of learners, inform career guidance and support SME development. The project is earmarked for communities in Rustenburg where learners are faced with poor educational infrastructure and resources.

The project will introduce new screening technology known as youthPROFILER, which will screen learners to identify individual literacy and numeracy skills levels. Screening reports for each learner will guide teachers and parents on different interventions to close the learning gap.

“We are thrilled to announce this partnership with Khulisa to get this incredibly valuable technology into ECD centers and schools where it is needed the most. Information from this screening technology will empower teachers with infrastructure, digital tools, reports, worksheets, and trained youth. We believe that literacy needs to be addressed in the child’s formative years and individual educational development should be informed by screening so assess a child’s needs,” says Erica Kempken, Head of Strategy at youth@WORK.

About us

Khulisa Social Solutions is a non-profit company that helps vulnerable children, youth, and communities unlock their potential and develop skills toward a sustainable future. 

It operates nationally, employs approximately 200 staff through 19 offices, and works in approximately 150 communities in collaboration with 350 NGO partners, impacting the lives of close to 200,000 people per annum.

Khulisa partners with national and local government departments, schools, correctional facilities, community leaders, corporates, thought leaders, academic institutions, and private companies. Khulisa’s internationally acclaimed and locally rewarded best practice programmes deliver positive and measurable impact with the main focus on youth and community development.

For more information, contact

Lesley Ann Van Selm | 082 601 2299 |  |