PRESENTATION OF THE CURRENT SITUATION OF EARLY SCHOOL LEAVING IN GREECE, RECOMMENDATIONS AND BEST PRACTICES FOR REDUCING AND PREVENTING ESL
by Styliani Lykogiannaki
English Language Teacher
EARLY SCHOOL LEAVING IN GREECE
•Pupil dropout in Greek Secondary School Education was estimated around 14%.
•According to the 2010 EUROSTAT estimates, Greece occupies a middle position, compared with other European countries concerning school dropout rates.
Factors leading to student disengagement from school:
•Geographical: rural areas, isolated islands
•Increasing school failure
COMMON FACTS AND NATIONAL TRENDS
In primary and secondary school education schooling is compulsory up to the age of 15.
In general, school dropout rates are higher:
•In rural areas rather than urban areas
•In boys rather than in girls.
•In Technical/Vocational Institutes rather than Integrated Lyceum.
Only a very small percentage of children that should enter the educational system never attend school. These children mainly belong to minority social groups, such as gypsies and immigrants.
AREAS WITH HIGH RATES OF SCHOOL DROPOUT
•The common feature of the non-tourist and rural areas is sometimes a low family standard of living, which leads pupils to enter the job market at an early stage in order to contribute to the family income.
•On the other hand, in tourist areas the standard of living is higher, but the family pressure to join in the family tourist businesses could be the main reason why school dropout is increased in those areas.
Main causes and actual reasons for school dropout:
•Socio-economic situation and prolonged financial crisis intensify insecurity and uncertainty.
•Social inequality and the lack of genuine equality of opportunities lead to unequal chances of access to education.
•Failure of social inclusion and integration in the school microcosm.
The place of residence plays a role in discontinuing education
•Long distances between school and place of residence may discourage pupils from continuing their schooling.
•Children living in rural areas or in small isolated islands are usually at a disadvantage compared with children living in urban centres.
Family reasons for Early School Leaving in Greece
•Families with social and financial problems, low family income.
•Low educational background and low educational standards.
•Large families with many children.
•Lack of family support to finish school and intense family conflicts.
•Pressure from the family to combine work with schooling.
Profile of Greek pupils at greater risk of school dropout
•Negative self-image and low self-esteem, lack of self confidence.
•General indifference, lack of interest in the lessons, lack of motivation.
•Weakness in the lessons, low marks, low performance and achievement.
•A lot of absences from the lessons, signs of frustration, alienation, aggressive behaviour.
•Failure to meet with the teachers’ and parents’ expectations.
Failure to fit in at school may result in school abandonment
•Failure of the socialization process in the school microcosm.
•Difficulties of adjustment to the school community.
•Lack of a smooth integration in the educational process and the school environment.
•Gradual isolation and rejection from classmates.
· Bullying incidents.
RESULTS OF EARLY SCHOOL LEAVING
•Students’ disappointment with the educational system.
•The division into “charismatic” and “non-charismatic” or “good” and “bad” pupils within the school environment becomes unavoidable.
•Prolonged marginalization, intense isolation and gradual rejection of pupils who abandon school without a leaving certificate.
•Deprivation of equal chances and professional development in the job market.
Early School Leaving is the outcome of a variety of factors:
•Individuals found in a disadvantageous position from linguistic, ethnic, cultural, religious and social point of view are at greater risk of under achievement and more likely to dropout from school before completing their compulsory education.
•School dropout is directly related to school failure and lack of a smooth school inclusion and integration.
Suggestions for future consideration
•The educational system structure, the pupil evaluation approach and the pedagogical methods used in dealing with pupils at risk play a decisive role in preventing school dropout.
•Effective decisions and active measures should be made at national level. Careful central planning is required in combination with individual initiatives of educators at local level.
HELPFUL MEASURES AND GOOD PRACTICES IN GREECE
•Cooperation and coordination in dealing with a probable school failure and planning effective interventions.
•Constant communication among pupils, parents and teachers.
•Reinforcement of schools by specialized personnel to deal with the problem.
•Further education of teachers on pedagogical training issues.
•School should set the foundations for a good professional future for young people.
· Implementation of cultural, environmental and health programmes at school.
· Students’ participation in athletic events, as well as literary, art, science and maths competitions.
· Promotion of arts and new technologies in the educational process.
STRATEGIES DEVELOPED AT OUR SCHOOL TO PREVENT EARLY SCHOOL LEAVING
• Regular communication and cooperation between school and pupils’ families is of vital importance and regular information regarding pupils’ progress and absences.
• Smooth contact between school and a potential dropout pupil should be maintained.
• Initiative was taken to introduce the institution of parent schools in the evenings: Parents had the chance to interact with specialists and get counselling.
• Incorporation of a European dimension in education through the involvement in European programmes in cooperation with European schools and exchange of visits.
• During the teachers association pedagogical meetings priority is given to organizing, implementing and monitoring specific practices in order to deal with learning and family problems of the pupils and establish cooperation with the parents. Also if needed an action plan could be organized addressing the underachievement or dropout issue.
• The institution of supporting teaching classes takes place in our school as well as most schools to help pupils with low performance, learning difficulties and special needs instead of going to private learning centres.
• At our school we coordinate the support of students’ families with very low income and financial difficulties.
POLICIES IMPLEMENTED AT NATIONAL LEVEL TO SUPPORT STUDENTS AND COMBAT EARLY SCHOOL LEAVING
• K.D.A.Y: Identification, Evaluation and Support Centre, to which pupils with learning difficulties such as dyslexia and possible intellectual deprivation may turn, for formal acknowledgement of the problem and its assessment.
• At each Secondary School Education Directorate, there is a Youth Counselling Station, offering assistance in dealing with learning, psychological and social problems of pupils.
• KESYP: Centre for Counselling Support which deals with issues of psychological and social care or vocational orientation of the pupils.
• Foundation of Observatory for the Prevention of School Violence and Bullying under the supervision of the Ministry of Education.
Different types of schools that function in Greece besides regular schools
• Second Opportunity Schools and Evening Schoolshave been established giving the chance to young people who abandoned their schooling at an early stage to return to school.
• “Multi-cultural Schools” and “Induction Classes”are in operation for the inclusion of foreign pupils.
• Experimental Schools, Art Schools and Music Schoolscater for the needs of “gifted” and talented students.
Conclusions and recommendations for successful interventions
• Appropriate funding for education, central planning at national level and coordination at a European level are required.
• Initiatives should be taken by the educational authorities to assure the smooth integration of minority groups such as immigrants and Roma.
• Students’ support and collaboration ensure a safe school environment and contribute to the social inclusion of unprivileged young people.
• Continuous in-service teacher training, so that teachers can efficiently implement new innovative pedagogical teaching methods aimed at dealing with pupil indifference towards schooling and learning, overcoming learning difficulties, reinforcing intercultural education and enhancing self-esteem.
• Specialized personnel (e.g. advisors, psychologists and social workers)should work at every school, specialized in counselling, orientation and guidance.
National bodies that aim at the prevention of Early School Leaving
•The Greek Ministry of Education
•The Greek Institute of Educational Policy
•Regional educational authorities
The project “Let’s go to school in Europe!” (2012-1-DK1-COM06-05363 5)has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.