Many early school dropouts likely to fall off the radar

ROA study on early school dropouts 

Eighteen months after leaving school, over a quarter of early school dropouts can be classified as NEETs: young people who are not in education, employment or training. This group is likely to fall off the radar well before leaving school: 40% of them did not discuss their decision with their parents before quitting and 62% did not discuss it with their school. According to the Early School Dropouts Factsheet from the Maastricht University Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA), most of these dropouts believed no one tried to help them.

The ROA conducts annual studies among students in secondary education (pre-vocational education (VMBO), senior general secondary education (HAVO) and pre-university education (VWO)) and upper secondary vocational (MBO) who left school before obtaining a diploma. The Factsheet, drafted in late 2012, surveyed more than 2,000 young people who left school in the 2010/11 academic year.

Key conclusions at a glance:

NEET characteristics
– Of the total number of early school dropouts surveyed, the study found that girls, ethnic minorities, students from single-parent families and students with children were more likely to become NEETs within eighteen months of leaving school.
– Compared to the average dropout, NEETs were more likely to quit school for personal reasons and physical or mental health complaints.
– Two out of ten NEETs do not plan on returning to school at a later date.
– NEETs are more likely to regret their decision to leave school, but relatively often claim they had no other choice given the circumstances.

Characteristics of early school dropouts
– Academic motivations – such as the programme being too difficult or failing an exam – were the main reason for leaving school prematurely.
– The majority of early school dropouts (80%) discussed their decision to quit before leaving school. However, 42% claimed that no one tried to stop them from leaving school prematurely.
– Of the students that left general secondary education (AVO) or pre-vocational secondary education (VMBO) prematurely, 75% returned to school eighteen months later.
– Over three-quarters of students who left their level 1 or 2 MBO study did not return eighteen months after quitting. One-third of them do not plan on returning at a later date.
– 57% of early school dropouts do not regret their decision to quit school.

Maastricht University, 8 July 2013

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