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Reducing Early School Leaving in the EU

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Measures and policies to combat early school leaving

Designing appropriate education policies and implementing good practices, based on direct insights into the actions, perceptions and discourses of the pupils themselves and their significant others could mean taking a giant step towards reducing early school leaving (ESL), and making an impact at local, national and EU level in an effort to tackle the current trend.

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ESL is a common problem in the EU, and measures are being taken to try to reduce the phenomenon. The aim of the EU-funded project Reducing early school leaving in the EU is to offer insights into what exactly influences pupils to leave school or training early. It also aims to identify those means of intervening that are successful for student retention. As such, the primary goals of the project involve designing common EU definitions and concepts on ESL, as well as collecting data on youth, their families and schools. The project aims to identify the personal characteristics of youth at risk of ESL and looks into ways of ESL prevention and remediation through alternative learning. Nine European countries are involved and survey data is being collected among 14 000 students in seven countries. The factors that predict ESL (at macro, micro and meso level) are being investigated. In addition, the project studies the intervention or compensation methods that are being implemented to keep a pupil at risk of ESL in school or in training. On completion, the project expects to provide insights into the mechanisms and processes influencing ESL, formulate recommendations on strengthening European educational systems and encourage research to support policymaking. Findings will be useful for European educational policy at both national and local levels.


Early school leaving, education policies, student retention, youth at risk, alternative learning

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