School dropout, an important issue for the European institutions, has become an important topic in Romania as well
School dropout, an important issue for the European institutions, has become an important topic in Romania as well. It’s not only finding out the exact dimension of the phenomenon that matters, but also finding solutions to it. What’s clear is that solutions cannot be found unless the relevant authorities in the field of education, social protection and local development work together for the best results. This is the topic of the study “All Children in School by 2015. Global Initiative on Out-of-School Children”, launched by UNICEF. The study is based on a methodology common to all 26 participanting states, Romania included. The Education Ministry, the Labor Ministry, the National Institute of Statistics and the Institute of Education Sciences have drawn up a report on Romania. The purpose of the study is to analyze the background against which school dropout occurs, raise awareness over the phenomenon and come up with solutions. Before finding solutions, it’s important to understand the scale of this phenomenon and its causes.
The long-term effects of school dropout are impacting a country’s entire society and economy. According to data supplied by the National Statistics Institute, 52% of the young people who abandon school early became jobless earlier than those who studied for a longer period of time. Another proof that school dropout is a social issue is the fact that there are differences between the various regions of the country in this respect. In some areas the phenomenon is less extensive than in other parts of the country, depending a great deal on that specific area’s economic and ethnic situation. In the regions where the number of Roma ethnics exceeds 5% of the local population, the school dropout rate is higher.
Nevertheless, statistics can be deceiving when the exact background of school dropout is not known and when the calculation method is not right. Ciprian Fartusnic, a researcher with the Institute of Education Sciences tells us how this rate is calculated in Romania:
“We count the number of children who enroll in a school in September, and compare it with the number of children who end the school year in June. What this study brings new is the fact that it takes into account the number of children who should have enrolled in the first place. So the first thing we learn is that the number of children who actually go to school is smaller than the number of children who should have. Thanks to data provided by the National Statistics Institute we found out the number of children of pre-school or primary school age. We compared this figure to that of children who actually entered the education system. Comparing the figures we came to the conclusion that less children enroll into the first grade than demographical data indicate. The phenomenon becomes even more extensive later. More than 55,000 children aged between 7 and 10, who should attend primary school, are outside the education system. The situation is similar in the case of secondary school.”
By using a calculation method used by EU institutions, we see the phenomenon acquiring a different dimension, which requires looking at it from another perspective. Ciprian Fartusnic:
“At EU level the school dropout rates among member states are not compared because of important differences in methodology. For instance, there is a method that calculates the rate on cohorts, monitored along several years of study. The indicator used is the early school dropout rate. This rate applies to a certain age group, between 18 and 24. Why is that? Because there you expect to find young people with a basic level of education. According to this method, we came to the conclusion that 1 in every 5 young people have not even completed the minimum 10-year compulsory education cycle.”
Irrespective of the calculation method, solutions to fight school dropout require collaboration among several institutions.