EU approves new action plan to fight early school leaving

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EU approves new action play to fight early school leavingEuropean Ministers back the European Commission’s action plan to fight early school leaving.

Malta is in the top 3 countries in the EU27 with the highest rates of early school leavers. In 2000 it was 54.2%, in 2008 it had gone down to 39% and the last figures available are for 2009, which stood at 36.8%. The same years for the EU27 were 17.6%, 14.9% and 14.4%.

Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Sport, gave a statement yesterday, at the meeting of Education Ministers.

“Today we are taking an important step forward in the fight against early school leaving in Europe and in achieving one of the Europe 2020 headline targets. This task is a vital one – Europe cannot afford to leave six million young people without a clear perspective for their further education and employment.

This Council Recommendation signals our commitment to fight one of the main causes of poverty and social exclusion.

We are all well aware that early school leaving is a complex problem. There is no easy solution which fits all circumstances and conditions.

There are many reasons why young people interrupt their education; reasons which need to be taken seriously and which require an adequate answer. Young people may need social, financial, emotional or educational support; they may need a new cause or motivation for continuing education and training.

A complex problem such as early school leaving requires strategies which address its multi-faceted and cross-sectoral nature. We need to shift from uncoordinated individual measures to more comprehensive and strategic approaches, which involve all the relevant stakeholders and policy sectors – not just education. Our strategies should be based on evidence and targeted sufficiently to the concrete situation within a Member State or a region.

I am confident that this Recommendation will boost the development of such comprehensive policies.

A European level expert group which the Commission plans to establish will facilitate the exchange of experiences and good practice and help to further develop effective and efficient policies to reduce early school leaving.

The Commission will support this work also by monitoring developments in Europe, by supporting comparative research on early school leaving, and by identifying trends and providing feedback to the Member States in the context of ‘Europe 2020’ and ‘ET2020’ [Education & Training 2020].

The Report on Progress in meeting the European Benchmarks for Education and Training sets out the most recent comparable evidence about early school leaving but also covers our shared objectives for education more generally, including early childhood education and learning mobility. I commend it to you as a valuable source of information which can help guide your important work in this and in other educational fields.”

Prevention policies aimed at children with a socio-economic disadvantaged background including Roma

“The particular situation of early school leaving among Roma children needs specific, sustained and targeted attention. In the Commission’s Communication on Roma Integration Strategies adopted in April, we have highlighted that in Member States with large Roma populations, the emphasis may need to be placed first of all on ensuring completion of primary education – only after addressing this challenge can early leaving from secondary school be tackled.

As a concrete contribution to help deal with the profound educational problems of Roma children, I want to inform you of my intention to launch, jointly with the Council of Europe, a programme to train, over the next three years, 1,000 Roma people as mediators. The aim is that they should work to bridge the gaps that exist between Roma children, families and communities and the schools and other services which are meant to serve their needs. I will sign the agreement to launch this process with the Council of Europe in July.”

One in seven young people in Europe quit education or training without adequate qualifications and this harms their personal development and job prospects. The measures proposed by the Commission will help EU countries to achieve their joint target of reducing the share of early school leavers in Europe from 14.4% now to less than 10% by 2020. This would mean at least 1.7 million fewer early school leavers. Member States have set national targets to reduce early school leaving, taking account of their relative starting positions and national circumstances.

Commissioner Vassiliou presented the action plan on early school-leaving in January.

By 2020 a share of early school leavers of no more than 10% should be reached.

Trends: In EU 27 the share of early school leavers (population 18-24) declined from 17.6% in 2000 to 14.4% in 2009 (females: 12.5%. males: 16.3%).

Best EU performers: Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia

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