DESCRIPTION OF CONTENTS
Early school leaving has been increasingly recognized as one of the main challenges faced by European societies. For the majority of young people, leaving education and training prematurely is both a result of educational, psychological and socioeconomic problems and a cause of continuous social insecurity. European education and training systems lose hundreds of thousands of young people each year, who are then equipped with inadequate skills for later life.
Reducing early school leaving to less than 10 % by 2020 is a headline target for achieving a number of key objectives in the Europe 2020 strategy and one of the five benchmarks of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training. High rates of school dropout are detrimental to the objective of making lifelong learning a reality and a constraint to smart and inclusive growth in Europe. They increase the risk of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion. Early school leaving represents a waste of individual life opportunities and a waste of social and economic potential.
This report provides basic data on early school leaving across European countries, outlines the main factors causing it, and presents examples of policies and measures to prevent or reduce it. It highlights strategies against school dropout that are based on evidence, together with intervention and compensation measures.
The profile of early school leavers varies considerably within the EU according to the highest education level achieved, to their status on the labor market and to their ethnic origin. Moreover, deconstruction of national averages often reveals significant regional differences. Over 70% of early school leavers in the EU complete only lower secondary education. A very worrying fact is that 18% of early leavers in the EU have completed only primary education. This trend is especially evident in Bulgaria (38%) and Portugal (40%). Some countries offer ISCED 3C short courses, including some vocational or pre-vocational training, such as in Cyprus, Greece, Luxembourg and the UK. ESL as defined in this document occurs often after achieving this level of education.
There is an obvious relationship between socio-economic status and the risk of school dropout, but the mechanisms linking various kinds of disadvantage to early school leaving are not clearly recognized; this phenomenon is a result of the interaction between home/family/community based factors, school-based and systemic factors. Early School Leaving is a process rather than a one-off event; it can be prevented best if the first signs of this process are recognized and effective measures to support the pupil in continuing education and training are taken.
COMMENTS ON THIS PUBLICATION
The document aims to help policy makers in Member States understand the phenomenon of early school leaving and the factors leading to it. It provides a very useful tool kit that helps the development of consistent and comprehensive policies for reducing early school leaving.
The European comparative methodological approach that was adopted is quite interesting for it allows to have a clear vision of the intensity the problem has in different countries, as well as understanding the diverse measures implemented to tackle or prevent early school leaving.