President Cyril Ramaphosa, seen here addressing players at a footabll friendly between South Africa and a Palestinian team, has finally announced the long-anticipated date of general elections

President Cyril Ramaphosa expressed his concern over the high rates of students dropping out of schools and colleges. Furthermore, he also voiced his worry regarding students repeating the same grade, urging stakeholders to address this issue in the education sector.

Speaking at the opening of the 2024 Basic Education Sector Lekgotla Conference held at the Birchwood Conference Centre in Boksburg on Thursday, the president noted that it is essential for youth to complete their education.

The event, held under the theme of "equipping learners with knowledge and skills for a changing world," disclosed that South Africa has made progress when it comes to access to basic education.

"However, dropout and repetition rates are still unacceptably high. I have spoken about this to you all in the past and I have urged all of us to work hard to reduce the dropout rates as well as to attend to the repetition rates," the President, who attended the event virtually, said, SA News reported.

Ramaphosa noted that poverty, youth criminality, teenage pregnancy and general violence in certain communities are also some of the reasons for higher dropouts. Furthermore, the burden on young people to take care of their aged parents and grandparents is also contributing to dropout and repetition.

"As the Government, we have continued to pursue pro-poor policies to systematically tackle the multifaceted factors impeding progress in basic education. These policies encompass the establishment of non-fee-paying schools; indeed, 80% of schools in our country do not require fees," the president said.

He added, "Moreover, more than 9.6 million children benefit from the national school nutrition program, free textbooks, scholar transport, and child support grants provided by the Department of Social Development."

Ramaphosa praised many initiatives aimed at providing educational support in areas with higher need, adding that these combined efforts demonstrate the government's dedication to improving education in South Africa.

He touched upon 2030 Strategy for Early Childhood Development (ECD) initiatives, which outlines a comprehensive plan to achieve universal access to quality ECD program by 2030.

"To ensure that we reach universal access to ECD programs for children aged 3-5, we will need to provide quality access to an additional 830,000 children. This is over and above the 2.2 million children in this age group who are already accessing ECD programs," the president said.

The government reaffirmed its dedication to fulfill Nelson Mandela's vision of education as the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world.

Mandela was a member of the African National Congress (ANC) and an anti-apartheid activist, who won the election with more than 60% of the votes in 1994.