Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.
Skip to main content
European Commission logo


EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.3 Preventing early leaving from education and training (ELET)

Last update: 25 March 2024
On this page
  1. National strategy
  2. Formal education: main policy measures on ELET
  3. Addressing ELET through non-formal and informal learning and quality youth work
  4. Cross-sector coordination and monitoring of ELET interventions

National strategy

Official document, timeframe, scope and contents

The early school leaving is defined as the percentage of people aged 18-24 who have only lower secondary education or less and are no longer in education or training. Over 15% of the Romanian young people are in this situation, Romania being the EU Country with the highest rate of early school leaving. The country target is set to reduce ELET to 11.3% by 2020 but the target was not reached.

The pupils are abandoning their studies for a wide range of social and economic reasons. The major factor that determines their decision is the social exclusion phenomenon they are facing. But not completing their studies, their chances to get a job are reduced and even if able to enter the labour market, they would have to accept low paid jobs. According to OECD data, in Romania, higher evels of educational attainment associate with lower unemployment rates. More in detail: 17.3% of 25-34 year-olds with below upper secondary are unemployed compared to only 2.6% among tertiary-educated ones. Across the OECD, unemployment rates for young adults with a vocational qualification are lower than for their peers with a general qualification. This is also the case in Romania, where 5.1% of 25-34 year-olds with vocational upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary attainment are unemployed, against 6.0% of those with general upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary attainment.

The groups that are mostly exposed to the risk of ELET are the minorities and other marginalized groups, pupils in the rural areas, pupils who are not able to pass their studies and have to repeat a class, youth and children with special educational needs. 

Preventing early leaving from education and training (ELET) had been defined as crucial to achieving key European and national targets. Improving citizens' skills and reducing early school leaving continues to be key priorities for Romania. Romania supports the principle of equal opportunities in education, regardless of individual characteristics. In this regard, the country's challenge is to improve educational performance among all children in order to meet the requirements of a knowledge-based economy.

The groups targeted mainly by this Strategy include: (i) children and young people; (ii) children and young people from families with low socio-economic status (poor); (iii) children and young people from rural areas; and (iv) Roma children and young people and other marginalized or under-represented groups. Any strategy that fails to prioritize support for these groups at risk,  compromising the goal of reducing ELET. However, the Strategy also aims to support interventions targeting as well other groups than the main ones. The prioritization of support for the different target groups is left to those professionals and stakeholders who will ensure the implementation of the Strategy and, more importantly, the sustainability of its results in the future. Together, they are the partners that will ensure the success of the Strategy. At central and regional level, members of this group include The Ministry of Education professionals, school inspectors and initial training providers, such as university professors. At the local level, this group includes teachers, school directors, counselors and mediators, parents, social workers, instructors and tutors, representatives of NGOs and community members.

The main guiding principles of the Strategy are the following:

  • an integrated answer and a coherent governmental strategy to reduce ELET, strategy that perfectly integrates the social policies, the youth policies and family policies.
  • An educational answer coordinated and comprehensive and in line with the LLL strategies
  • Evidence based policies
  • Sustainable financing – granting long term initiatives
  • Learning from the national and international good practices
  • Identifying a set of good practices at the regional level and learning from these practices.

The short-term objective of the strategy is to ‘implement an effective policy of prevention, intervention and compensation  - policy to address the root causes of ELET, focusing on young people 11-17 years old.’

The medium-term objective: ‘By 2020, the reduction to a maximum of 11.3% of the 18-24 year olds who have completed at most the lower secondary education and are not enrolled in any form of further education or training.’

The long-term objective: ‘Contributing to smart and inclusive growth in Romania by reducing the number of people at risk of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion.’

Strategic pillars and representative programs

The main programs and measures proposed to achieve the objectives of this strategy are grouped into four (4) strategic pillars:

  • Pillar 1: Ensuring the access to education and quality education for all children (measures aimed at increasing access to primary education and supporting schools in communities with fewer opportunities)
  • Pillar 2: Ensuring the completion of compulsory education by all children (remedial education programs, student counselling)
  • Pillar 3: Reintegration of the early school leavers into the education system (Second Chance Program)
  • Pillar 4: Developing adequate institutional support (strengthening the administrative capacity)

Government authority responsible for the implementation

At the central, regional and local level, a number of key institutions are involved in the formulation and implementation of ELET policies. At the central level, the Ministry of Education is the main actor in both the formulation and implementation of ELET policies, through two of the major directorates of its structure, namely:

  • Directorate-General for Pre-Higher Education (DGEIP), which has a key role to play in defining policy guidelines, programming and monitoring at national level;
  • Directorate General for School Management and Schools’ Network (DGMRS), which monitors and evaluates the management of the inspectorates, schools and the Teaching Staff Houses at the pre-university level.

There are also public institutions of national interest working under the Ministry of Education, including the following:

Other ministries play an important role in addressing multiple factors influencing ELETL: the Ministry of Labour through the County Payments and Social Inspection Agencies (AJPIS)

At the local county and level other institutions are involved, according to the Strategy

  • The counties’ schools inspectorates representing the Ministry of Education at the local level and ensuring the implementation of national policies such as initiatives on prevention, intervention and compensation activities related to the reduction of ELET ; ensuring systematic monitoring on the agreed action plans and proposed outcomes, and providing support to schools in their initiative to prevent ELET.
  • The Teachers’ Houses - providing in-service training for teachers in the pre-university education system. Each county has such an institution that works closely with County School Inspectorate, with schools and teachers in that county when it comes to reducing ELET. 
  • County Resource and Educational Assistance Centres (CJRAE) - coordinating, monitoring and evaluating the educational services provided by pre-university education institutions, based on methodological and scientific criteria; participating in teacher training and evaluating the education specialists and school mediators offering educational services within these centres.
  • Schools are the main entity responsible for implementing education programs, working directly with pupils and parents.
  • Non-governmental organizations – such as Roma Education Fund RomaniaSave the ChildrenRomani-CrissWorld Vision România 
  • Local government authorities.

Monitoring/assessment/evaluation of the implementation of the strategy

The monitoring and evaluation process has been designed around the concept of management based on results as the main working principles. The permanent progress’ monitoring of the main representative programmes is stipulated in the Strategy. The monitoring measures are based on annual planned activities. A progress report and planning the activities for the next year are set as targets.

In the monitoring process, the Ministry of Education cooperates with other 6 ministries of governmental agencies: the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Work and Social Justice, the Ministry of European Funds, the Management Authority and the National Institute of Statistics. Moreover, other stakeholders are to be involved with the M&E processes: schools, the counties’ school inspectorates, the parents’ organizations, the business sector and the NGOs. 

Major revisions/updates

No updates have been made to the current strategy by March 2024.

The strategy did not reached its medium term objective in 2020, but this represents an important reasons for the continuation of its implementation. In 2022 the Ministry of Education adopted a methodology for the identification of children and young people at risk of dropout and early school leaving: the Mechanism for Early Worning in Education, and in 2023 the Ministry launched the National Programe to Prevent School Dropout (PNRAS), supporting schools to implement inclusive educationa and support activities for children at risk of dropout and early school leaving.

Formal education: main policy measures on ELET

Measures in general formal education

In formal education, the strategy planned to reduce early school leaving are the subject of the entire institutional development policy. The aim is to a positive learning environment, to enhance quality and innovation at the pedagogical level, to enhance the quality and training of teachers in order to properly approach the social and cultural diversity, and to develop effective strategies to combat violence in schools. The interventions include:

  • Transforming schools into learning communities based on an image of shared institutional development for all beneficiaries, using the experience and knowledge of all of them by creating a comfortable environment that inspire and encourage freedom of thought, motivating young people to continue their education and training.
  • Establishing systems to identify risk, providing the possibility to take prompt action before the problems occur even before the pupils begin to distance themselves from school, absent or abandon it.
  • A close relationship with parents and other relevant non-school organizations such as community services in the area, representing immigrants or minorities, sports and cultural associations, employers or civil society organizations, which makes it easier to find holistic solutions to help those students in risk groups and mediating external support, psychologists, social workers, community services, or cultural associations. The process can be facilitated by the community mediators who should be able to support the communication with parents and children in these risk groups.
  • Continuously supporting and supporting the efforts made by teachers in their work with pupils in risk groups, a basic condition for the effectiveness of the measures taken at the institution level. Pedagogy courses as well as further training courses for teachers and school administration staff are designed to help them address the issue of classroom diversity and to support pupils from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, leading to solving any difficult situations that may arise in the teaching process.

Measures in vocational education and training (VET)

The main objective of the Strategy is related to contributing to the attractiveness, inclusion, quality and relevance of vocational and technical education improved proposed measure to enhance the vocational and technical education system through reform curricula, teachers’ training and management consolidation through stronger and creative links with the potential employers and the labour market.

Activities planed are:

  • Curricula revision and revised and upgraded qualifications with the participation of the employment sector
  • Providing training programs for school principals, teachers, trainers and company tutors to better respond to the needs of the labor market;
  • Providing support for practice internships and create workshop facilities for school education and training

The activities are in line with the National Employment Strategy and the national strategic project Educated Romania, representing the main policy document in the field of education post 2021.

Specific target groups identified in the youth population

Main target groups are, according to the Strategy:

  • Target group 1: Children and young people aged 18-24 
  • Target group 2: Children and young people in families with low socioeconomic status. The learning outcomes of pupils from poor families remain far behind the outcomes of pupils in wealthier families, and their access to high school education and beyond is limited. Measures to support students in families with low socio-economic status will therefore contribute to the success of the overall policies and main measures suggested in this strategy. Regional and even county differences will require personalizing the implementation of the policy measures recommended in this strategy. There are regional differences due to the fact that poverty is very concentrated in some regions (Northeast, Southeast, Southwest), and in this case more comprehensive solutions are needed to compensate the discrepancies between the different regions, especially with regard to resources (both at central and local level).
  • Target group 3: Children and young people in rural areas - Another key target group refers to young people and children in rural areas. Rural areas remain behind urban areas in terms of overall school results. The actions needed to reduce poverty in rural areas are transversal and go beyond the limits of the education sector. Important investments are needed to improve access to and quality of education and reduce early school leaving. Limited access to quality infrastructure and human resources (especially school principals and teachers) is far more evident in vocational and technical education. The ELET strategy can not therefore be addressed in particularly, but rather it should complement other key national priorities: easier access to labour market, investment in VET structures etc.
  • Target group 4: Roma population and other marginalized and underrepresented groups - The under-representation of the Roma population in all educational fields is addressed through the prevention, intervention and compensation measures proposed in the strategy.

In order to encourage the school participation and to reduce the early school leaving rate, the Ministry of Education, in line with the legislative documents and with the national strategies, developed several of projects and initiatives:

  • In 2020-2021 it continued the traditional programmes: Money for Higschool, the Professional Schoolarship programme (targeting pupils that are part of VET schools), the Programme Euro 200 (for the acquisition of IT equipment) or the Hot Meal programme.
  • Implemented CRED project and over 55.000 teachers benefited from training on inclusion and inclusive schools settings. 
  • Developed the legislative framework required for the “School after School programme”. The "School after School" (SDS) program is a complementary program to the compulsory school program, which offers formal and non-formal learning opportunities, for the consolidation of skills, remedial learning and accelerated learning through educational, recreational and leisure activities and addresses both students from primary education, as well as from secondary education students. According to the regulation from 2021, pupils can benefit from the programme until the end of the secondary education level (the 8th grade).

Addressing ELET through non-formal and informal learning and quality youth work

Description of the policy/programme/project/initiative

Addressing ELET through non-formal and informal learning and quality youth work were only organized by NGOs and the identified ones benefit of and were implemented with the support of ESF – European Social Fund or EEA Grants.

Source of public funding

No public funding had been allocated specifically for ELET through non-formal and informal learning or youth work, although projects funded by the Ministry of Youth and Sports through its youth programmes can support these type of activities. However, there is not a clear statistics of these projects by their objectives, in order to be presented in this way.

Cross-sector coordination and monitoring of ELET interventions

Multi-agency partnerships - Monitoring and evaluations

In the monitoring process, the Ministry of Education cooperates with other 6 ministries of governmental agencies: the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, the Ministry of European Investments and Projects, the National Institute of Statistics. Moreover, other stakeholders are to be involved with the M&E processes: schools, the counties school inspectorates, the parents’ organizations, the business sector and the NGOs.

Links with the implementation of the national Youth Guarantee

The National Employment Strategy including the implementation plan for the Reinforced Youth Guarantee, a particular attention is paid to subgroups that face difficult access, such as adolescent mothers, juvenile delinquents, young caregivers, young people with disabilities, young people with cognitive impairment (autism) and young people who have dropped out of school. For them, the mere existence of registration services at the public employment offices, but additional effort is needed to involve them in training and retraining programs as their interest or ability to actively engage in a job search, and in maintaining it is very low. Municipalities and local organisations are empowered by the National Employment Strategy to develop adapted plans for early school leavers and other young NEET, including the Second Chance programme, put in place by the Ministry of Education or their enrolment in vocational education.