Tackling Early School Leaving

To reduce the early school leaving rate, EU Member States should target young people from disadvantaged, migrant and Roma families, says the European Parliamentary resolution voted on 1 December 2011.

Mary Honeyball’s (UK MEP) report on the problem of Early School Leaving (ESL) was passed at the European Parliament almost unanimously with 543 MEPs voting in support of it. This report follows on from previous work on Early Years Learning and the publication (in January 2011) of the Commission’s Communication on Tackling Early School Leaving.

According to the author of the report, “ESL is a complex phenomenon and one of the hugest challenges facing Europe at present”. Honeyball defines early school leavers as individuals between the age of 18 and 24 who have left education and training with only lower secondary education or less. The most vulnerable groups identified in the report are children from poor, disadvantaged or migrant families. Special efforts are needed to help Roma children, of whom 20% receive no schooling and 30% leave school early, it says.

The resolution stresses the importance of reducing the early school leaving rate for the EU's economic and social stability. They point out that cutting it by 1% would give the EU 500, 000 more qualified young workers each year. Recent figures show that 52% of young people who left school without qualifications are unemployed.

The resolution says that the most effective ways to cut the early school leaving rate would be to raise the mandatory school leaving age from 16 to 18, or until the end of secondary education. It also calls on member states to find ways of reintegrating early school leavers into the regular school system by implementing suitable programs such as second chance schools. This will now be sent to the Commission and the Council and will inform discussions on these issues to help reach the Europe's ambitious target of reducing early school leaving to below 10% by 2020.

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