Adolescent school drop-out in South Africa : an asset-vulnerability framework.
This article investigates the impact of poverty and shocks on adolescents, particularly their role in early school drop-out. Data consisting of 3043 adolescent interviews and 1945 household interviews, from a recent survey entitled Transitions to Adulthood among Adolescents in Durban, South Africa, has been used. While conventional explanations of drop-out acknowledge the role of socio-economic factors, this paper attempts to understand, through an asset-vulnerability framework, the explicit contribution of poverty and shocks to drop-out in the South African context. The results indicate that the poverty-based theory of drop-out put forward, while appealing, does not fully account for drop-out. Instead, it would seem that among poor households the education of their children is seen as an asset that is to be protected. It is proposed that school feeding schemes be reconsidered as a social welfare tool to support poor households in their attempts to keep their children in school.