6.3 Preventing early leaving from education and training (ELET)
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Currently, there is no comprehensive strategy to prevent early leaving from education and training (ELET). However, reducing ELET is an objective of the National Reform Programme of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, 2021). According to this programme, the government has implemented a series of measures based on three areas of action, namely prevention, intervention and the strengthening of skills in the context of lifelong learning. For example, in secondary education the government aims at diversifying education in state schools to better adapt to the heterogeneous profile of its population.
Furthermore, increasing the flexibility and permeability of education pathways as a means to remove potential obstacles to the completion of education and training programmes (European Education and Culture Executive Agency et al., 2021).
Monitoring of the policy in the field of ELET is realised by a report on ELET which is published every year and monitors the number of school dropouts, the characteristics of the pupils and also the reasons for dropout. Luxembourg has carried out an annual systematic survey of all early school leavers since 2003 where every ELET is contacted by the Local Support for Young People (ALJ; Antenne Locale pour Jeunes).
According to the most recently published survey, the share of dropouts has levelled off at around 8%. The share of male students among dropouts is about two out of three, the share of female dropouts is much lower (about one third). The survey reveals that reasons for ELET are missing for most of the students (only 308 out of 1736 pupils reported a reason). The three most frequently reported reasons were: disliking the training programme (n= 96), having not found vocational training (n= 75) and health problems (n= 41) (MENJE, 2022c).
There are various policy measures on ELET in the field of formal education to prevent ELET or to help early leavers re-enter the education and training system (European Education and Culture Agency et al., 2021). The target group of all policy measures are young people who need support and who have dropped out or are at risk to drop out. Since male pupils from a migrant background are affected most frequently, measures are particularly oriented towards this group.
Policy measures and projects are provided by different public bodies. The 2017 law by which the Local Support for Young People (ALJ; Antenne Locale pour Jeunes) was integrated into the National Youth Service defines the following objectives:
- Set up a network of local offices whose mission is to support young people in their transition to work by offering information, consultation and individual supervision
- Organise workshops, training programmes to develop social and technical competences, and internships to prepare young people for the labour market
- Offer extra-curricular activities to prevent school dropout, organise the exchange with secondary schools regarding pupils at risk for dropout and guarantee the supervision of early school leavers.
According to the 2017 law on secondary education, secondary schools are responsible for offering guidance to the pupils, namely by:
- Informing pupils about the educational system and training opportunities, and about offers of post-secondary education in Luxembourg and abroad
- Informing about the socio-economic world and the labour market in particular
- Developing pupils' competences and allowing them to make decisions about their vocational pathways and to develop a personal study project.
Every secondary school has an established guidance unit (cellule d'orientation) composed of teachers and educational staff. Its purpose is to realise the school and vocational guidance at school according to the reference framework (cadre de référence). This reference framework defines:
- The objectives of the school and vocational guidance offers
- The measures which have to be realised in order to attain these objectives
- The specific services and external actors, that are needed to inform about the socio-economic world
- The involvement of the school community in the guidance procedures.
The reference framework is elaborated by the coordination unit of the House of guidance (Maison de l'orientation) in cooperation with the Coordinating Service for Educational and Technological Research and Innovation (SCRIPT; Service de Coordination de la Recherche et de l'Innovation pédagogiques et technologiques); it is adapted by the minister in charge of education policy.
With the 2017 law the Psychology and School Guidance Service (SPOS; service de psychologie et d'orientation scolaires) is replaced by the Psycho-social and Scholastic Assistance Service (SePAS; service psycho-social et d'accompagnement scolaires). The service is in charge of the psycho-social support and supervision as well as of the educational and professional guidance of pupils in secondary schools.
In secondary schools, specific programmes are available for pupils who are at risk for dropout:
- 'Guidance and professional initiation courses' (COIP) are available to young people aged 18 or older who have left school, lack the necessary skills to find a job and do not fulfil the requirements for entry into the lower cycle of the technical vocational education and training (TVET). The courses last one year and focus on the acquisition of key competences corresponding to the lower secondary education level (communication, numeracy, ICT, etc.) and the definition of an individual professional project. The pedagogy approach is primarily based on individualised training plans and coaching. Participants are supported in their preparation to access the vocational regime of TVET, or enter the labour market
- 'Mosaic Classes' (classes mosaïques) focus on those pupils with behavioural difficulties and are identified as being at high risk of dropping out. In these classes, pupils are intensively monitored for a temporary length of time (between 6 to 12 weeks on average) in small groups and within alternative learning environments.
The National School for Adults (ENAD; École Nationale pour Adultes) was established by the 2018 law (loi du 1er août 2018 modifiant la loi modifiée du 12 mai 2009 portant création d'une École de la 2e Chance). It is not a new structure but replaces the former 'Second Chance School' (E2C; École de la deuxième chance). The ENAD is an integral part of the public school system and is open to any young person or adult between the ages of 16 and 30 years who, as a result of failure or of bad orientation choices, has dropped out of school or has been unable to find a place as an apprentice.
The ENAD teaches these learners in a specific way, giving priority to supervision and personal tutoring. It offers 'classic' secondary education and 'general' education and also sandwich training courses for social education workers leading to the social education worker's diploma and to the 'general' secondary school leaving diploma as well as preparatory modules providing access to higher studies.
The House of guidance is a public institution that houses various career guidance and counselling services at one location (see: 3.4 Career Guidance and Counselling).
Many of the measures described above also apply for VET. For example, Mosaic Classes have been established in four VET schools, and the national school for adults is available for VET students and utilises VET pedagogies.
The main programme addressing ELET in the field of non-formal and informal learning is the National Voluntary Service (SVN; service volontaire national). The service especially focuses on disadvantaged young people with fewer opportunities and aims at encouraging early school leavers to go back to school to successfully complete a degree (for further details, see: 2.4 Youth volunteering at national level).
Furthermore, the Outreach Youth Work is a programme offered by youth centres targeting inactive young people with low motivation and resources to manage their professional integration and who are classified with a 'NEET' (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) status. Even though it does not exclusively address early school leavers, a significant number belongs to this group (for further details, see: 2.4 Youth volunteering at national level).
The policy areas of employment, youth and family and the corresponding public authorities are involved in the implementation, coordination and monitoring of policies in the field of ELET. Multi-agency partnerships at the local/institutional level are already well established (e.g. House of guidance).
Every school in secondary education has a Psycho-social and Scholastic Assistance Service and a Socio-educational Service (SSE; Service socio-éducatif), which cooperates with teachers and parents in identifying needs and priorities and contribute to the organisation of support activities outside school lessons, the cooperation with the school's medical service and with competent services and professional chambers in order to provide vocational guidance (European Commission, EACEA, Eurydice, & Cedefop, 2014).
The ELET interventions are also linked with the Luxembourgish Youth Guarantee scheme insofar as it foresees a coordination of the so-called 'School-oriented trajectory' which consists of a systematic follow-up of early school leavers and the coaching of early school leavers in small groups to prepare and organise their return to school or apprenticeship.