- The target set by the Europe 2020 strategy on education is to reduce the share of early school leavers to less than 10 per cent. Arguably, one-third of European regions do not meet this target
- Differences between East and West are quite striking. However, Eastern regions tend to score better
- Some regions seem to be quite close from achieving these targets, especially those located in Germany, France or the UK
- In contrast, regions in Spain and Portugal have the highest drop-out rates in Europe. The same applies to outermost territories
Observations for policy
Young people dropping out of their education constitute a challenge for many countries. Indeed, one third of European regions are very far from the Europe 2020 target of less than 10 per cent early school leavers. Given the pace at which improvements in the education system demonstrate effects it seems rather difficult for many regions to meet this target.
The overall picture shows some clear differences between East and West where Eastern regions tend to score better. Regions in Spain, Portugal and Turkey as well as outermost territories have the highest drop out rates in Europe. This is not only attributed to cultural and historical reasons, but also to the importance of policies in place.
Europe 2020 is the growth strategy of the European Union. The focus is on smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. These three mutually reinforcing priorities shall help to deliver high levels of employment, productivity and social cohesion. At EU level, and within each Member State, concrete objectives, targets, and flagship initiatives have been defined to boost growth and jobs.
The headline target defined by Europe 2020 strategy on education is to reduce the share of early school leavers to less than 10 per cent, measured as percentage of the population aged 18 to 24.
At present about 15 per cent of the population aged 18 to 24 are classified as early school leavers. The map shows how drop-out rate varies among European regions. The pattern ‘favours’ some Eastern Europe countries such as those locate in Croatia, Slovakia, Poland, and Czech Republic.
At the same time, some regions in Western Europe are doing well, including some located in Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg or Belgium. Furthermore, most of the regions that do not reach the target are quite close from this goal, especially in Germany, France, Ireland, and the UK, among others.
The regions scoring worst are to be found in Turkey where the majority of students do not fulfil lower secondary educational levels. The same applies to regions located in Spain and Portugal. Outermost regions have particularly high dropout rates. The gap between successful and lagging behind regions is quite heterogeneous.
Concepts and methods
Early school leavers refer to persons aged 18 to 24 fulfilling the following conditions: first, the highest level of education or training attained is accredited by ISCED; second, respondents declare not having received any education of training in the four weeks preceding the survey. The denominator consists of the total population of the same age group, excluding no answers to the questions ‘highest level of education or training attained’ and ‘participation to education and training’.