Early school leaving is a complex, dynamic and multifaceted phenomenon, resulting from a combination of personal, social, economic, educational and family-related factors, very often linked to socio-economic disadvantage. It is rarely a sudden decision, and usually the visible result of a long process of underachievement and progressive disengagement from education.

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‘Early leaving from education and training’ (ELET) refers to students leaving education and training before completing the upper secondary level or obtaining the corresponding school leaving certificate. This broad definition encompasses the young people who, according to their own country’s definition, are considered to be early leavers.

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Source: Conze, s. (2012). «The European Commission and policy on early school leaving (ESL)». EIPPEE Conference 2012: Advancing the use of research in education across Europe.