BIC, a world leader in stationery, has recently concluded its nationwide Back-to-School campaign that sheds light on the country’s alarming school dropout rates. In partnership with the Zero Dropout Campaign, BIC leveraged its campaign to raise awareness around one of the major challenges in the education sector.
Among BIC’s commitments is improving learning conditions for 250 million students by 2025, and the Zero Dropout Campaign intends to reduce South Africa’s dropout rate by half in 2030. About 41% of South African learners don’t obtain a National Senior Certificate by the end of their schooling career.
The initiative was promoted by collaborating with three cast members of the Netflix series Blood & Water. The cast was responsible for selecting schools that would receive the products and leverage their social media channels to promote the campaign.
These collaborations resulted in 6,000 writing tools and R10,000 donated to three schools. Through its campaign touchpoints, BIC reached over one million people in South Africa and aims to distribute one million writing instruments
Commenting on the occasion, Lilian Henderson, Marketing Director of BIC in Southeast and Central Africa said: “Education is a cornerstone for us at BIC. Through our research, we have learned that a contributing factor to school dropouts is the lack of resources. We wanted to build on that and leverage our campaign to raise awareness around the matter as well as encourage other brands and organisations to contribute towards resolving the issue within our capabilities. We have long been active on the education front and are confident that our latest Back-to-School campaign further elevates our commitment to education in the country. This campaign is only a first step in our ongoing narrative around school dropout rates and our contribution to a more prosperous South Africa.”
From her end, Merle Mansfield, Director of the Zero Dropouts campaign said: “The dropout rates in South Africa are alarming. Countless learners in South Africa are constantly dealing with social pressures outside of school, including raising families, staying safe, finding a sense of belonging, or even avoiding bullies. These factors all contribute to dropout rates. We are proud to work with BIC and other organisations to raise awareness around this crucial issue. Our aim is to reduce learner dropout and provide our children opportunities to learn and prepare for their future.”
While recent reports by the Department of Basic Education have shown an increase of over 80% in the matric pass rate last year, this percentage doesn’t accurately represent the learners dropout rates in the country, especially among learners of compulsory school-going age following the covid-19 pandemic.
A lack of resources is often cited as a contributing factor to the school dropout rate challenge, but it is not the only one. School facilities are also a contributor to the issue. Many schools in the country are overcrowded and don’t have the required equipment, technology, or space to accommodate students. According to a Zero Dropout Campaign report titled ‘School Dropout: Context Counts’, the statistic is even higher amongst low-income communities who find it challenging to provide the necessary tools and financial support.
The school dropout challenge cannot be fixed overnight. It needs the private and public sectors, as well as educators, to come together to propose long-term solutions that suit the socio-economic state of the country. Through its Back-to-School campaign and other initiatives planned for the year, BIC aims to continue to work with like-minded teams such as the Zero Dropout Campaign, and call on more organisations to take part in raising further awareness around the challenge and the importance of education, as well as to contribute to the solution.