Introduction: South Africa’s schooling programme has been divided into four phases: the first
three phases being compulsory, and the last phase optional. In terms of completion of the
optional phase of schooling, South Africa fares below average in relation to other
middle-income countries, to the extent that school dropout has become a national crisis.
School dropout has grave and enduring consequences, and further investigation appeared
essential. An overview of the influential aspects associated with early school-leaving was
consequently compiled to establish a greater understanding of the phenomenon.
Objectives: To provide a critical overview of the predictive risk factors associated with school
dropout, highlighting the manner in which such factors affect early school-leaving and possibly
interact with each other.
Method: A scoping review was employed as review design as it provided an effective method
to comprehensively examine, clarify, and summarise the extent, range, and nature of dropout
Findings: From an initial 636 sources, 73 were ultimately selected for review. Seventeen
primary themes concerning predictors of school dropout were extracted from the selected
material, and categorised as personal, economic, social, and school factors. An overlap between
the predictive factors was also established, and six further themes could be identified in this
regard. Based on the above findings, relevant principles related to school dropout interventions
Conclusion: It was clear from the overview provided that school dropout is a complex and
multifaceted process, which involves the presence and interaction of multiple factors.
A narrow theoretical model, with a single predictor emphasis, could subsequently not provide
an adequate theoretical framework, and a bioecological approach was thus applied. It was also
clear that school dropout interventions should be implemented broadly across various domains.||en_US