Contact innovator

Grant Edmond
Lindiwe Kers
Supporting learner engagement to reduce school dropout and foster lifelong learning

Learner Engagement Programme

location_on South Africa
The programme creates a community-wide and stakeholder inclusive approach to improving learner engagement and reducing school dropout. Using an early warning system and referral network, Just Grace intervenes early in the disengagement process with personalised support by qualified professionals to remove barriers to learning and equip learners with the skills required for engaged learning.
Nozibele Ndunge, Programme Lead
School drop-out deepens inequality and poverty. We help learners flourish - to complete school with the knowledge, skills and abilities to become active citizens in their community and the world.

Nozibele Ndunge, Programme Lead


HundrED shortlisted this innovation

HundrED has shortlisted this innovation to one of its innovation collections. The information on this page has been checked by HundrED.
Key figures

Innovation Overview

Target Group
Updated on October 2nd, 2021
about the innovation

Why did you create this innovation?

By final year, just 50% of learners in South Africa are enrolled at school. Only 30-40% of enrolled learners leave school having passed the national school exit exam, due to absenteeism and other disengagement factors. Drop-out is the result of a long process of disengagement and this innovation works to empower parents, learners and educators to work together to reduce dropout.

How does your innovation work in practice?

Stakeholders (teachers, caregivers, police etc.) refer learners displaying at-risk behavior (using empirically driven pre-defined risk factors) to Just Grace. This referral network acts as an early warning system to detect disengagement early on. For a referral, Just Grace’s team engages the relevant stakeholders in assessing the needs and creating a personalised development/intervention plan for the learner. This includes 2 home visits, 10 high impact 1-1 life skills sessions, 4 group life skills sessions and counselling (where required).
The intervention removes barriers to learning and empowers the learner with the necessary soft skills to become a lifelong engaged learner. The presence of a caring adult fosters hope, security and connection to facilitate change. The learners are then assessed to see if they can be reclassified to low/no risk. Community-wide campaigns and parent support groups are run to create a community response to dropout and increase ownership of the solution

How has it been spreading?


75% of learners were reclassified from high risk to low or no risk and began attending school regularly as a direct result of the intervention. Remaining cases are open.

Parents and teachers reported that they felt supported and encouraged

Social work outcome reports note behaviour shifts in parents and learners

Positive behaviour shifts were noted in the learners through self-reported surveys, social worker assessments and teacher input

Average rating on session rating scale for sessions was 8.4/10 by beneficiaries


Increase resources to expand the programme to other communities across South Africa and Africa to demonstrate scalability of model and increase impact.
Contribute towards a reduced national dropout rate as evidence of the ultimate impact

If I want to try it, what should I do?

Tailor push&pull factors affecting drop-out to your community, develop a referral process with key stakeholders.
Build data systems to track and measure learner engagement.
Establish a team of qualified professionals to deliver the interventions using the provided approach and effective M&E mechanisms to ensure programme outcomes are achieved in terms of the theory of change.


Achievements & Awards

June 2021
Mail & Guardian Top 200 For Contribution To Civil Society
June 2021
Triga Social Entrepreneurship Fellowship: an accelerator network offering supporting to build high-impact, redemptive ventures that will positively impact the lives of an inclusive, broader community in Africa.
June 2021
Surve Philanthropies Award For Contribution Towards Social Justice In Education
June 2020
South African Shining Star Award For Contribution To Education

Spread of the innovation

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Inspired to implement this? Here's how...

Learning Brief - Early Warning Systems
Within South Africa, learners who do not achieve their National Senior Certificate (NSC) are more likely to experience unemployment, receive lower wages, and as a result, experience more economic burdens than those with an NSC.
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Learning Brief - Implications of Covid19 on Disengagement
We explore some lessons we have learnt on how to frame the Learner Engagement Programme so that it may offer learners from low-income communities the opportunity to complete their matric and pursue further education and training, or meaningful employment.
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Case studies for Learner Engagement Programme
These are the stories of learners who have participated in the Learner Engagement Programme.
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Just Grace 2020 Annual Report
The 2020 annual report reflecting on the previous year and on the programmes delivered to our beneficiaries.
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