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Republic of North Macedonia has no comprehensive Strategy for preventing early leaving from education and training. Separate policies and measures about ELET can be found in many different strategic documents.
According to the State Statistical Office of Republic of North Macedonia, in 2019 7,1% of Macedonian youth (18-24 years old) were registered as early school leavers. According to the last data from Eurostat, percentage of early leavers in 2019 was 7,1%. There is significant improvement regarding previous years (in 2006 there were 22,2% early school leavers), and according to MLSP this situation is primarily a result of the introduction of compulsory secondary education.
It’s important to be mentioned that the municipalities do not have accurate data on students who have dropped out of school and do not have the practice of collecting data on a regular basis, nor is such a requirement regulated by law. On the other side, schools have data on students who drop out of school, but do not follow what happens to them after they leave school.
Мany national documents are recognizing the importance of specific measures for preventing early school leavers. Strategy for Vocational Education and Training in a Lifelong Learning Context 2013-2020 and Action Plan, in the Chapter 4.1. VET in the function of strengthening social cohesion and social inclusion, recognizes that decreasing the number of early school leavers is an important measure for enhancing the skills of the population, increasing the employment rate and promoting social inclusion. It is noted that there has been a decrease in early leaving, but the decrease is not due to some specific measures or strategy undertaken to tackle early leaving but as an added value of the changes in the education system, the extension of the duration of compulsory primary and introduction to compulsory secondary education.
In the Strategy for the Roma in Republic of Macedonia 2014-2020, under the strategic orientation – Increasing the level of education of the Roma community, there are a number of planned activities and projects to be undertaken by the Ministry of Education and Science that directly impact the early leaving from education of Roma students.
Reduced criteria for enrollment of Roma students in public high schools
In the Open call for enrollment in public high schools, students of the Roma ethnic community may enroll in certain public high school if they have up to 10% less points than the number of points provided in the Open call in accordance with the relevant curricula and if they meet additional criteria for the knowledge exam and skills in the appropriate school.
Project for scholarships, mentoring and tutoring of Roma students
The Administration for Development and Promotion of Education in Languages of Members of Communities, for five years continuously is carrying out the project for scholarships, mentoring and tutoring of Roma students. The project takes place in three stages: i.e. scholarships, mentoring and tutoring.
Free books, transportation and accommodation in dormitories
The Government through the Ministry of Education and Science for several years is implementing the project for free books which is also followed with free transportation and accommodation in dormitories.
Quotas for enrollment of Roma students in the institutions of university education
This practice functions for years as an affirmative measure for easier access of the Roma students in the institutions of university education.
The National strategy on alleviation of poverty and social exclusion in the Republic of Macedonia 2010-2020covers a section of education that encompasses a number of goals and measures regarding ELET. Although its’ definition does not mention ELET specifically, the following measures impact ELET:
- Extend and restructure the network of secondary schools in a way to make it adjusted to the needs at local level, which will offer the students a better possibility for selecting secondary school which will be closer to their place of living;
- Provide mechanism to monitor the number of children who entered secondary school after finishing elementary school;
- Provide compatible curricula and programs from among the various types of secondary school in order to provide for the horizontal mobility of the students.
Special measures for children from vulnerable categories:
- Award cash benefits to socially endangered families under the condition that they meet certain criteria related to their children’s education (conditional cash transfer);
- Provide additional financial and staff benefits for secondary school with a large number of Roma children;
- Introduce compulsory additional instructions during the whole school year for all students who have problems learning the instruction material;
- Involve the civil society organizations in the coordination of their activities for raising the need of the Roma, Albanian and Turkish parents to educate their children.
The Strategy also states that there is a need of larger scope and reduced rate of early school leave by girls, particularly in rural areas and certain ethnic communities.
In order to help students with financial obstacles, the Strategy provide financial support (scholarships, free-of-charge accommodation in student’s dormitories etc.) for graduated secondary school students from socially endangered families who have achieved high results and want to continue to university.
Other document which is covering ELET is the Revised Employment and Social Reform Program 2022 from December 2019 of the MLSP. One of the objectives in the program is reducing the drop-outs of pupils and the number of early school-leavers, by improving the coverage, learning conditions, continuity and completion of the education. According to this Strategy, family and family circumstances are most often the main causes of early school leaving by the young women (either because of early marriage, tendencies of poorer families to favor the education of their boys instead of the girls, or the culture and traditions that prevent young women to gain a higher level of education).
In order to reduce the drop-outs, the program envisages the following measures:
• Implementing measures for stimulating inclusion of children from marginalized groups, mainly within primary and secondary education;
• Continuation and provision of free-of-charge textbooks for primary and secondary school pupils;
• Providing free-of-charge accommodation in dormitories for students coming from cities where there are no secondary schools (gymnasiums and vocational schools);
• Intensified monitoring and registration of students who have not regularly attended classes in the school and take timely appropriate (preventive) measures;
• Intensified and improved work with pupils' parents;
• Improving integration and interaction among students attending classes in different language;
• Implementation of specific measures for stimulating and supporting education of Roma-pupils (awarding scholarships, providing mentors and tutors for Roma pupils, measures for involvement.
The new Law on Primary Education (adopted in August 2019) foreseen engagement of educational moderators for Roma pupils who comes from socially disadvantaged families and / or are longer time out of the education system. The role of the educational moderator is to ensure that the information about opportunities and access to school are always available; to have regular cooperation with teachers and other staff in order to improve the achievements of pupils and taking different activities for decreasing the rate of early schools drop-outs. The Law also foreseen that in the case of early drop out of school, the parent or guardian of the student who early drop-out is referred to counseling. Primary schools are obliged to keep records for pupils who early leave the school and the reason for early leaving.
Secondary education is also obligatory for every citizen, under equal conditions determined by law. According to the Law on Secondary Education (Закон за средното образование), Article 109, a fine in the amount of 600 to 800 euros shall be imposed on the parent (or guardian) of the juvenile student if the student is not enrolled in a secondary school or irregularly attends the school.
The Law on Adult Education (Закон за образование на возрасните) is another principle document that addresses ELET in the way that allows students who have already left education to finish it as adults. Article 4 stipulates that the aim of adult education is to insure a possibility for acquiring an adequate education level for everyone and all age groups and to enable them to acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes in accordance with the requirements of the society and labor market.
Tasks of adult education:
- Finishing at least mandatory education;
- Qualification for employment of adults who did not finished first level of education;
- Prequalification and finishing qualification and training of employed and unemployed individuals;
- Enabling education and acquiring knowledge and skills that fit the personal abilities and age of the individuals, and
Acquiring basic skills and competencies as basics for lifelong learning.
Prevention of early school leaving is not often a topic of non-formal education. In 2017, within the project Inclusion of Children Outside the Schools in the Education System (Инклузија на децата што се надвор од училиштата во образовниот систем, Извештај од испитувањето), (supported by the Children's Foundation Pestaloci, implemented by the Ministry of Education an Science and Macedonian Center for Civic Education) a report has been prepared that says the problem of early school leaving is most pronounced among the Roma population. Report also states that the researchers on the field identified 481 early school leaver, most of them (59%) were 14-19 years’ old, and most of the students left school during the first 4 years of elementary school. According to the findings, less than 60% of Roma complete primary educations, while about 25% of Roma students do not continue their education after the fourth grade. The report also concludes that, according to the school's opinion, the extended stay for students at risk of early school leaving would be part of the solution to the problem, but this requires the consent of the Ministry of Education as well as the provision of additional funds.
From time to time, trainings and workshops are held (usually from the Erasmus + program) where target groups are teachers and professors from elementary and high schools in Macedonia. Such training usually serves teachers to exchange experiences and good practices concerning the prevention of early school leaving. Information for such trainings is usually published on web page on the National Agency for European Education Programmes and Mobility or is shared internally in the schools.
 Inclusion of Children Outside the Schools in the Education System, Research report, Macedonian Center for Civic Education (Skopje, 2017), p.5 http://mk.mcgo.org.mk/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/%D0%98%D0%BD%D0%BA%D0%BB%D1%83%D0%B7%D0%B8%D1%98%D0%B0-%D0%BD%D0%B0-%D0%B4%D0%B5%D1%86%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B0-%D1%88%D1%82%D0%BE-%D1%81%D0%B5-%D0%BD%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%B2%D0%BE%D1%80-%D0%BE%D0%B4-%D1%83%D1%87%D0%B8%D0%BB%D0%B8%D1%88%D1%82%D0%B0%D1%82%D0%B0-%D0%B2%D0%BE-%D0%BE%D0%B1%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B7%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%BD%D0%B8%D0%BE%D1%82-%D1%81%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%82%D0%B5%D0%BC.pdf (Accessed November 20, 2018)
The strategies and programs of the national institutions foresee cross sector cooperation in implementation of various measures and activities.
According to Employment and Social Reform Program 2020, the state is undertaking a series of measures and activities for further improvement of these conditions and for the prevention or reduction of student dropout rates and further improvement of the situation in relation to early school leavers. Among other things, the cooperation with the parents has also been strengthened in order to gain and strengthen the trust between parents and school employees, so that parents and the community can be involved in school life, but also the school to be involved in community life. In addition, a number of financial incentives have been provided for parents from vulnerable groups through conditional cash transfers for socially disadvantaged families whose children regularly attend classes, scholarships, free-of-charge textbooks, transport, and accommodation and so on. All these measures and activities are giving the expected results and will continue to be implemented in the coming years.
 Employment and Social Reform Programme 2020, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy of the Republic of Macedonia (Skopje, 2017), p.47 http://www.mtsp.gov.mk/content/word/esrp_dokumenti/ESRP%20Macedonia%20-%20final%20(ENG).pdf (Accessed November 20, 2018)