Expert-seminar: Drop-out from schools of secundary education

Expertseminarium om ungdomar som hoppar av sina gymnasiestudier

Den 16 – 17 mars 2012 arrangerade ICSW i de nordiska länderna (med stöd av ICSW Europa) ett expertseminarium i Oslo på temat ungdomar som avbryter sina gymnasiestudier, dess konsekvenser och möjliga lösningar. Seminariet var en uppföljning av expertseminariet om barnfattigdom i Stockholm 2009.  Valet av tema baserades på att ungdomar som inte fullföljer sina gymnasiestudier tenderar att bli permanent utestängda från arbetsmarknaden. Detta i sin tur  innebär allvarliga sociala följder på såväl individ- som samhällsnivå.  Vid expertseminariet deltog forskare och praktiker från Norge, Danmark, Färöarna och Sverige för att utbyta erfarenheter samt diskuterade tänkbara orsaker och centrala faktorer för att förebygga avhopp.

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Drop-out from Schools of Secondary education in the Nordic Countries,
Expert-seminar International Council on Social Welfare (ICSW) Europe

Oslo 16-17 March 2012.

EDITED BY : BODIL ERIKSSON AND EINAR VETVIK

Abstract
ICSW Expert Seminar: Drop-outs – Youth at Risk in the Nordic countries

The Norwegian association “Norsk Helse- og Sosialforum” arranged an expert seminar in Oslo, Norway, about drop out from secondary education. Social scientists and practitioners from Norway, Denmark, the Faroe Islands and Sweden exchanged experiences of drop-out from school, its consequences and possible solutions. In the Nordic welfare states all children independent of social background and gender should have equal opportunities to education. Young people need a secondary education today. In this perspective the representatives from the different countries were presenting a growing problem with young people dropping out from secondary education. In presentations from all countries participants were pointing at the specific situation in their country, but the similarities were striking.

Many young persons who did not fulfill their education were also reported as unemployed. Drop-out was seen as a social problem bearing a risk of a permanent exclusion from the labor market, but also from other social spheres as housing and establishment as independent grown-ups.

During the seminar causes for drop-out were discussed. Models of practical work with young people leaving school to bring them back to education was introduced and compared. It was focused to find central components for preventing them to fall out from school.
A central question raised was if it was young people dropping out, or if the school drops out the youngsters? There are at least these two sides of the matter.

In the presentations both factors from a structural and societal level, institutional level and individual experiences from young people presented and discussed. All participants emphasized the necessity to put a stronger focus on prevention of drop-out as early as possible, rather than later interventions. Reasons to drop out from school were found on different levels as the organization and content of the education, e.g. too much book-learning and problems with internship. Long distances to the school and difficulties to be included in the social life with class mates and lack of support from grown-ups were also mentioned. Social and economic background of the pupils and low-educated immigrant parents increased the risk to drop out. As more boys than girls leave school the role of gender was discussed.

Successful work with youngsters dropping out was presented by different NGOs. They all emphasized their base in human values when developing alternative to the regular school. It meant being sensitive to the needs of the youngsters, meeting them as individuals and listening to and seeing them. Number One was to build trust between pupils and grown-ups in the school. Cooperation with different agents around the youngster was also pointed out and the civil sector was seen as a driving force for the work.

All participants shared the opinion that it was high time to give emphasis to preventive measures. Experiences from the work with drop-outs should be used at an early stage. As many signs in early childhood points at future difficulties, it was seen of outmost importance to make early interventions. In the end the seminar concluded that the Nordic welfare model is not only about assistance and service when undesired situations have occurred. It is also a task to prevent undesired situations to occur by organizing work and use resources both from the public sector and the civil society.

Participants were members of ICSW member associations from the Nordic countries.