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Smooth, staggered or stopped? Educational transitions in the South African Youth Panel Study

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Corporate author/s:

Labour Market Intelligence Partnership (LMIP); Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), Education, Science and Skills Development Research Programme; Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET)

Person/s author/s:

Isdale, Kathryn; Winnaar, Lolita; Zuze, Tia Linda; Reddy, Vijay


research report



This report uses the South African Youth Panel Study (SAYPS) - a longitudinal panel study - to follow Grade 9 learners who participated in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in order to explore the educational transitions of young people. The SAYPS provides the first national longitudinal data to be collected annually on young people in South Africa, making it possible to study the detail of individual transitions over a consecutive four-year period. Specifically, the report starts by examining what the main activity choices of young people are over time and how learners move through the education system. We identify four distinct educational pathways followed by learners, namely: 1. Smooth: Neat, year-on-year grade progression through school; 2. Staggered: Learners in school for all waves who make some grade progress but have at least one episode of grade repetition or a move to a further education and training (FET) college; and Individuals who return to school in Wave 4 but are out of education (i.e. are either working or are not in employment, education or training (NEET) ) for at least one wave; 3. Stuck: Learners in school for all waves, but stuck in Grade 9 or 10 for three or more periods; and 4. Stopped: Individuals who leave school before Wave 4 and do not return.

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