Compulsory schooling until the age of 18 throughout the EU and second-chance schools could help reduce the rate of school drop-outs, say MEPs. MEPs adopted a resolution on Thursday calling on Member States to carry out education reforms targeting young people most at risk of quitting school early.

The resolution takes up the goal of the EU 2020 growth strategy which seeks to bring the school drop-out rate down to below 10%. MEPs underline the importance of these measures for economic growth and economic and social stability in the EU.

Cutting the rate by just 1% would mean 500,000 additional young skilled workers for the European economy each year. Recent figures show that 52% of young people who leave school without any qualifications are jobless.

Target groups

The most vulnerable groups identified in the report by Mary Honeyball (S&D, UK) are children from poor and underprivileged homes and migrant families. Special efforts are needed to help Roma children, of whom 20% get no education of any sort and 30% have dropped out of school.

Actions proposed

The most effective ways to cut early school-leaving rates would be to raise the minimum school-leaving age from 16 to 18 and to open more second-chance schools  to get young school drop-outs back into education, say MEPs.

Parliament advocates a tailored approach, worked out jointly between schools, public authorities, social services and health services. Its report highlights the investment needed at national level to develop teachers' skills.

Education reforms

MEPs recommend using a range of different teaching methods and favour the use of continuous assessment in order to take knowledge acquired informally into account in getting young people back into the school system (58). They call on Member States to establish a varied curriculum, combining general instruction and vocational training (internships, visits to firms). They support partnerships between schools and local firms, like the ones that already exist in Spain.

The resolution was approved with 543 votes in favour, 83 against and 4 abstentions.

Procedure: Non-legislative resolution