05 SES 14 A, Understanding the Risks to Early Leaving. Exploring the Risk and Support Factors in Europe
Since 2009, compulsory education lasts for 12 years in the Portuguese education system starting at 6 and ending at 18 years of age or with the conclusion of upper secondary education, according to Internacional Standard Classification of Education (UNESCO, 2012). It is universal, free and compulsory. Basic and Secondary education can be concluded and certified through different paths. One of those is Education and Training Courses/Professional Courses (ETC/PC), which is the focus of our research. Although Portugal have been reducing the early school leaving (ESL), this phenomenon is still high when compared to the OECD countries (OECD, 2014). In the agenda 2020, Portugal assumed the commitment to achieve at least a rate of less than 10% of the ESL (PNR, 2019). Data were collected in the Leiria region, specifically in seven schools from this region. Questionnaires were fulfilled by 649 students and 92 teachers and interviews were applied to 7 members of these school boards and administrations as well as focus groups to 42 teachers and 68 students. The quantitative data were analysed in MS EXCEL and the qualitative data (totally transcribed) were analysed with the software MAXQDA2018 with the previously defined categories: understanding the risks to early leaving; strategies to prevent early leaving; and, re-engagement strategies to address early leaving. These were divided into five subcategories: structural; institutional; social; family; and personal. For the purpose of this proposal, it is aimed to present the results of the subcategory structural factors. According to the results, the structural factors contribute to the risk of ESL and are related to the Regulations imposed by the Ministry of Education and to the poorly suited curricula for VET. This last one, seems not to be adjusted to the real market needs, being unappealing and having too much workload and theory without enough practice. As strategies to prevent ESL, participants identified the possibility of having individual transition plans, curricular adaptations, reduction of students per class and the importance to reflect about the need of compulsory schooling until 18 years of age. According to most of the participants, it is difficult for young people to re-enter school after school leaving. Some re-engagement strategies to address early leaving are mentioned, such as: the need to provide different types of training (more practical courses, evening teaching, adult education and training); pathways more suitable to the specificities of each student; major school investment; workload reduction; and curricula adjustment.
OECD (2014). Perspetivas das políticas de educação: Portugal – OECD. available from http://www.oecd.org/education/EDUCATION%20POLICY%20OUTLOOK_PORTUGAL_PRT.pdf PNR (2019). Programa Nacional de Reformas: mais crescimento, melhor emprego, maior igualdade. Available from https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/2019-european-semester-national-reform-programme-portugal_pt_0.pdf UNESCO (2012). International Standard Classification of Education – ISCED 2011. Canada: UNESCO Institute for Statistics.
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