23 SES 03 C, Policies on Early School Leaving and Participation in Education
This paper analyses the nature and development of a current EU education policy priority – tackling early leaving from education and training (ELET). Countries within the EU committed themselves in 2009, through the Strategic Framework for European Cooperation in education and training (‘ET 2020’), to reducing the proportion of early leavers from education to less than 10 % by 2020. In 2011, education ministers agreed on a ‘framework for coherent, comprehensive, and evidence-based policies’ to tackle early leaving. From 2011, a working group bringing together policy makers and practitioners from across Europe has looked at examples of good practice across Europe and has promoted an exchange of experiences on this issue, most notably a Flanders case study. Finally, in the context of the European Semester 2014, country specific recommendations have been issued to some Member States focusing on reducing early leaving as a policy priority area.
Research questions, objectives and theoretical framework
The research is founded on Foucauldian theory and explores the emergence, through problematization, of the policy priority (genealogy), the ways in which the subjects of the policy initiative are positioned (subjectification), and the governmental rationality which underpins the policy (governmentality). The study analyses how the policy development represents both continuity and disruption in relation to current trends in European and global educational governance.
The study, therefore, examines three main research questions:
- From where, and within which policy context, does this priority emerge, and why?
- How does it position/subjectify the young people who are the focus of the policy initiative?
- What rationality underpins and drives the policy detail?
From the perspective of a Foucauldian theoretical framework, the analysis aims to trouble the discourse by probing the inherent assumptions, the contingency of the discursive construction of both problem and solution, and the coherence of, and normative assumptions manifest in, the rationale on which this policy is founded.
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