Exploring school dropout among males in the greater Cape Town area, South Africa

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Doctor of Philosophy
Title Exploring school dropout among males in the greater Cape Town area, South Africa
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
URL https://open.uct.ac.za/bitstream/handle/11427/23404/thesis_hum_2016_geldenhuys_philip_rudolf.pdf?seq​uence=1
The unofficial state of education in South Africa is announced annually by means of the
Grade 12 results, also known as the National Senior Certificate. As a result, little attention is
given to the more than half or at least 500 000 South African learners who drop out of the
school system annually. Consequently, scholarly work dealing with topics relating to school
dropout in South Africa is limited. This study moves the focus to a specific population group
who are at risk of dropping out of school, namely male learners in poor communities.
An exploratory qualitative study was undertaken to determine what the main factors are that
are influencing school dropout among males in the greater Cape Town area of South Africa.
The participants in this study included 49 key informants, including male school dropouts,
teachers, school principals, representatives of the Western Cape Education Department, and
parents of male school dropouts. Using in-depth individual interviews and focus group
discussions, it was possible to establish that male school dropout is influenced by an array of
factors of which some can immediately precede departure from high school while others
could have happened years earlier in primary school or even before.
The thesis established in this dissertation is that most of the influences on male school
dropout are primarily institutional. In other words, the underlying narrative emphasising male
school dropouts as the main contributors to this outcome is misleading. Indeed, most of these
influences are amplified by practices within the institutional context, especially the school. A
localised theoretical framework for male school dropout in South Africa is constructed with
the support of Rumberger and Lim’ s (2008) conceptual framework and can be understood
within the school dropout models of both Finn (1989) and Tinto (1975). Furthermore, the total
absence of school dropout records and statistics on a school and local district level keeps role
players unaccountable for this action. As a result, teachers, school principals and Western
Cape Education Department representatives are either ignorant of or paralysed by the
complexities and extent of school dropout among males. Therefore, this study aims to lay the
foundation for further research to inform and empower the aforementioned role players to
address this problem.

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