6.3 Preventing early leaving from education and training (ELET)
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The definition of "Early School Leaving", according to Eurostat, includes young people who have completed, at most, the lower cycle of secondary education, are aged 18-24 and are not in an education or training structure. This definition is adopted by many European countries, in combination with more specific definitions per country. According to the Eurydice Network's report "Tackling Early Leaving from Education and Training in Europe: Strategies, Policies and Measures", the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs uses other definitions such as "non-completion of compulsory education or the corresponding vocational education or training".
Since the period of education and training of young people has been extended, the term "Not in Education, Employment or Training" (NEET) is introduced, which addresses young people aged 16-29 (which is almost identical with the target age for Greece), who are not in education, training and employment.
Based on a conceptual investigation of definitions, first in chronological order is the student dropout related to the student not attending the educational system, followed by the early school dropout, which concerns individuals aged 18-24, and is covered by the term NEET, addressing young people up to 29 years old.
According to the European Union's development strategy "Europe 2020", the goal is to reduce early school leaving rates below 10%. The National Strategic Objectives in relation to the counterparts of the "Europe 2020" strategy were transformed at a rate of 9.7%. Greece remains within the 10% target of "Europe 2020" and the national target of 4.1% in 2019 regarding the rates of early school leaving.
Regarding the NEET in the year 2019, 19.1% of Greek youth belonged to this category. Greece has a high youth unemployment rate (15-24 years) in 2019, with 35.2% of young people not working.
There is no widely applicable national strategy for tackling early leaving from education and training. However, the report entitled "Strategic Policy Framework for the Reduction of Early School Leaving in Greece" develops a set of strategic directions for tackling the phenomenon of school dropout, having as main axes Prevention, Intervention and Compensation.
The Law 4368/2016 states, among others, the compensatory education and remedial teaching, which aim to "reintegrate students into the learning process, in order to complete compulsory education" and "increase the access rates to the second stage of secondary education".
Formal learning is regulated nationally and includes the systems of general and vocational education, basic vocational training and higher education. Specifically, the standard education system, for the target age group (15-29 years old), includes secondary education, Second Chance Schools (SCS), post-secondary vocational education and training (level 3), post-secondary vocational training (level 5) and higher education.
As stated in the Strategic Plan for Vocational Education, Training, Lifelong Learning and Youth 2022-2024 ′Youth policy measures promote and facilitate the participation of young people in democratic life, foster their active citizenship and active public life′.
Regarding the recording and processing of data for the most effective tackling of early school leaving, the Institute of Educational Policy (IEP) established, in accordance with law 4186/2013, the "Observatory", whose mission is monitoring.
A considerable initiative implemented is the Schools of Second Chance, which were established in accordance with the Government Gazette 1861 / Β / 2014. The Schools of Second Chance (SCS) are public schools for adults in the context of Lifelong Learning and are aimed at young people over 18 years of age, who have not completed the nine-year compulsory education. This institution provides the opportunity to obtain a degree equivalent to a high school degree and integrate in the social, economic and professional structures. The Schools of Second Chance fall under the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, which, through the General Secretariat for Vocational Education, Training, Lifelong Learning and Youth (GGEKDVM & N), forms the educational framework and monitors their operation. There are 76 Schools of Second Chance of which 12 run in Detention Centers.
In the same frame of mind, within the framework of formal education, the Vocational Training Schools (VTS) and Vocational Schools (VS) of Apprenticeship of OAED. (Law 4763/2020) run. In particular, they provide post-secondary vocational training level 3 in the National Qualifications Framework (NQF), using the binary system, which combines theoretical and laboratory training in the classroom along with apprenticeship in the workplace. The Vocational Training Schools (VTS) can be public or private, morning or evening. There are 50 Vocational Apprenticeship Schools of OAED (Labour Employment Organization) in 35 technical specialties, in which 7.645 students attend during the school year 2021-2022
At a post-secondary level, there are Post-Secondary Year - Apprenticeship class programs, which address non-compulsory secondary vocational education graduates and holders of equivalent degrees, who possess a basic level of knowledge, skills and abilities. They are optional, they are part of the post-secondary vocational training and constitute an educational path, the completion of which, after successful certification exams leads the graduates to a level 5 title of the National System of Vocational Education and Training (VET). Respectively, in the post-secondary vocational training, the Vocational Training Institutes (IEK) operate, in order to provide initial vocational training to graduates of non-compulsory secondary education, i.e. general senior high schools and EPAL, as well as to holders of equivalent degrees.
The main purpose of the abovementioned schools, among others, is to deal with school leaving, to upgrade basic skills and to ensure the integration into the professional life of vulnerable social groups.
As stated in the Strategic Policy Framework for the Reduction of Early School Leaving in Greece, the high risk groups for early school leaving are:
- Children from disadvantaged social backgrounds.
- Children from vulnerable social groups (parents with special needs, parents with learning disabilities, parents with physical or mental health problems).
- Children with a history of school dropout.
- Students with low performance.
- Children with a minority or immigrant background.
- Children with a history of high and frequent mobility.
There is no specific policy for tackling early leaving from education and training through non-formal and informal learning. However, Chapter Θ΄of Law 4763/2020 on Lifelong Learning Centers defines the services in the context of non-formal learning provided to adults. Adults' options for non-formal learning include:
- Continuing Vocational Training
- General adult education
- Counselling and career guidance
ALMA (Aim, Learn, Master, Achieve) is an initiative of the European Union, which concerns the empowerment of the most vulnerable young people aged 18-30 who do not participate in education, employment or training (NEET). For Greece, the ALMA initiative, as mentioned in the Strategic Plan for Vocational Education, Training, Lifelong Learning and Youth 2022-2024, can have pilot use for youth employment, social inclusion or social innovation. It can be connected either with the graduates of the Schools of Second Chance, or the graduates of EPAL (Vocational Secondary schools).
In the context of non-formal learning, service providers are:
• Lifelong Learning Center (LLC), (public or private law), which provides continuing vocational training, general adult education, vocational guidance and lifelong counseling.
• Training and Lifelong Learning Center (TLLC) of Higher Education Institutions.
• College, which provides non-formal education to graduates of formal non-compulsory Secondary education.
As mentioned in the Strategic Policy Framework for the Reduction of Early School Leaving in Greece, cross-sectoral cooperation is needed in order to address early school leaving from education and training. Important stakeholders and partners for the formulation and implementation of the strategy, is the local society, the local and social bodies, and in general those who have relevant competence in areas concerning the PEEK
Indicative examples include the Counselling and Guidance Centers (CGC), the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry for the Interior, the Ministry of Health, the Regions, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), and the Institutes of Teachers' Federations, social partners and Higher Education Institutions for various issues related to student dropout and early school leaving, such as KANEP GSEE (the Greek General Confederation of Labour in the area of Education and Lifelong learning), KEMETE OLME (Centre for research and documentation of OLME), IPEMDOE (INSTITUTE OF PEDAGOGICAL RESEARCH-STUDIES OF THE TEACHING FEDERATION OF GREECE), EKPA (NATIONAL AND KAPODISTRIAN UNIVERSITY OF ATHENS), ASPΕTE (SCHOOL OF PEDAGOGICAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL EDUCATION), EKDDA (NATIONAL CENTRE FOR PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION & LOCAL GOVERNMENT), and other bodies.
The Strategic Plan for Vocational Education, Training, Lifelong Learning and Youth 2022-2024, develops a new model of coordination regarding Vocational Education and Training (VET) Lifelong Learning (LL) and the Youth. Therefore, it is clear that the respective policies will refer to the age group of 15-29 years old, which includes the NEETs (Not in employment, education or training) and high-risk individuals for early school leaving.
At a central level the following have been established and formed:
- The Central Council of Vocational Education and Training (CCVET), with the mission of submitting proposals for the design of national policy on vocational education, training and lifelong learning.
- The Central Scientific Committee (CSC), with the mission of scientific research, study and documentation on issues related to improving the quality and effectiveness of vocational education and training, as well as lifelong learning programs.
Furthermore, the Production - Labor Market Liaison Councils (PLMLCs), are a regional structure of government, with the authority to submit suggestions to CCVET. In these Councils, directors of educational units (IEK., EPAL, EPAS Schools of Apprenticeship of OAED), representatives of the region, representatives of employees and employers participate.
Finally, according to Law 4763/2020, the Sectoral Skills Councils (SSC) are established, which aim to assist the work of CCVET.