Merle Mansfield started her schooling career with over 300 fellow grade eights, but matriculated in a class of just 53. “At the time, this was not significant to anyone, including me,” she says. Now Mansfield is committed to tackling the normalisation of dropping out of school in South Africa. She is the programme director for the Zero Dropout Campaign at the DG Murray Trust. What began as a research project in 2015 has since grown into a national advocacy campaign. “Our goal is to halve South Africa’s dropout rate by 2030 by spurring individual and collective ownership of the problem,” Mansfield says. It is the resilience of South African students that inspires her. “Many learners’ lives are filled with deep turmoil and trauma, yet a commitment to education and school persists,” she says. Through her work, she hopes to give students the chance to enjoy learning — and stay in school.
Work hard. Everything worth having requires a little bit of hard work.