Early school leavers are defined as 18-24 year-olds with at most lower secondary level education who have not progressed to any further education or training. Early school leaving is linked to unemployment, social exclusion, and poverty. There are many reasons why some young people give up education and training prematurely: personal or family problems, learning difficulties, or a fragile socio-economic situation. The way the education system is set up and the environment in individual schools are also important factors. Since there is not a single reason for early school leaving, there are no easy answers. Policies to reduce early school leaving must address a range of triggers and combine education and social policy, youth work and health related aspects such as drug use or mental and emotional problems. EU countries have committed to reducing the average share of early school leavers to less than 10% by 2020.
As a European partnership, the EUROSOLE project partners believe that the design and quality of education systems also have a strong impact on learners’ participation and performance. We place a particular focus on the learning space or environment – as environments where learners do not feel respected or valued, where teaching methods and curricula may not always be the most appropriate and where poor teacher-student relationships exist can also lead learners to leave education prematurely.
The EUROSOLE project believe a lack of active involvement in one’s own learning environment is a key component in the high percentage of early school leavers in Europe. We propose that a change in balance of control between teachers and students can promote engagement and reduce disengagement. Our rationale is echoed in recent reports in Europe by the Working Group on School Policy-Early School Leaving (2013): “Students who leave education and training early do so because of a ‘cumulative process of disengagement’”. Our project emphasises a need to engage with the very heart of the learning process in addition to providing education and career guidance to young people as prevention and intervention in early school leaving.
EUROSOLE is all about being united in diversity and promoting a love of learning in which students rather than educators take the lead!