Mar 21, 2010


In the comment thread of this post I rather glibly stated that Teach for America had a dropout rate of ~50% (n.b. that I was defending TFA at the time). Turns out it's more like 15% for two years, though it gets a bit murky after that. Regardless, I still believe that TFA is a worthwhile program with a limited scope.

The dropout rate for Peace Corps in South Africa, on the other hand, is actually about 50%. This is higher than average--according to this Peace Corps wiki, the overall rate is about 33%. I find this discrepancy unsurprising.


  1. Say more about this? I'd have thought SA would be pretty decent as PC placements go--decent infrastructure, clean water, plumbing (assuming you aren't living in Alexandria or Khayelitsha). Admittedly the rural areas are far less developed and I speak from the relative luxury of Cape Town, but I'd think placements in some of the former Soviet states or even other parts of Africa would be much harder. Unless it has to do with PC admin in SA. Am enjoying your blog btw.

  2. Well, I'm living in a super-remote village, and the creature comforts are pretty thin on the ground. I live in a tin-roofed shack that leaked like a sieve until I put about a liter of caulk in it (part of the roof blew off one time), and the water comes right out of the ground. I've never gotten seriously sick from it, but I still boil it to be safe.

    However, I reckon that South Africa's relatively high early termination rate has more to do with high crime (I've been attacked by tsotsis three times, though not violently), atrocious sexual harassment (the majority of volunteers are female), and lousy PC administration. More specifically, the site development runs from patchy to downright negligent, the medical officials are incompetent, and the pre-service training is a joke. That's not to say I've had a bad time here. It's been great!

    On the other hand, it was a commonly-repeated statistic that South Africa has the second-worst ET rate in the world, but I've been told recently that we are more average. I'll see if I can dig up some solid numbers on that score.

    Glad you like the blog! :)

  3. We're living the reality of the South African conundrum: first-world enclaves in a third-world country. Cape Town has high crime, to be sure (I've been pickpocketed, but it wasn't violent so I count myself lucky), but it also has high-end coffee shops and internet cafes and yoga studios. I get the sense that a lot of the people who live here are trying very hard to pretend they're not in Africa.

    The sexual harassment is worse when I'm in the townships and that's probably true of rural areas too--I wonder how much of it has to do with race. I don't stand out as a white girl in Cape Town, but I do in Khayelitsha or, presumably, the more rural provinces.

    If you come to Cape Town I'll buy you a latte. : )

  4. I was in Cape Town for the World Cup, and the thing I noticed then was the massive police presence. Literally dozens of cops on Long Street for the opening match. Dunno if that still obtains now, but it was reassuring then.

    I think the harassment is partially race and partially a foreigner thing. People have this idea that white girls are slutty and get very pushy. It's disgusting, but luckily just another guy around almost eliminates it, so I try to at least accompany my neighbor to town when I can. I don't know how they put up with it.

    Be careful what you offer, I might just take you up on it! :) I've still got a few months left and I've had a hankering to go back to the mother city. I haven't had a latte in ages.