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Current Issues in Education-Early School Leaving
Start date: Jun 1, 2015, End date: May 31, 2016 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Early school leaving is an issue relevant in all EU countries and has attracted the attention of a lot of researchers as well as policy makers and educators. There is a real risk of long-term socio-economic disadvantages for an early school leaver. For many, leaving school early will lead to narrower employment opportunities and an increased likelihood of poverty and unemployment. Also teenagers who leave school early have an increased risk of drug abuse, criminal activity and psychological problems. Many young people who have left school early are marginalized, stigmatized and become the victims of social exclusion. According to detailed statistical results presented by the Ministry of Education, during the school year 2010-2011 3.417 students abandoned school, 3.646 children in 2011-2012, 4.860 children in 2012-2013 and last year early school leaving concerned 4.502 children. On the whole, in other words, 16.425 students abandoned school in only 4 years. In Greece early school leaving, according to official European data concerning the year 2011, is determined at 13.1 %, while the aim until 2020 is for a decrease of this percentage below 10%. Even though, however, our country appears to contain early school leaving around the European average (13.5%), all estimates show that the percentage will increase dramatically due to the prolonged financial crisis, as well as the inability of many families to support their children through their transition from one level to the next in our educational system. Our school, the 2nd Vocational Senior High School of Heraklion, also faces the phenomenon of early school leaving. A large number of students commute daily from and to the agricultural mainland via long-distance buses of the local bus company and a lot of these students are employed, either in the afternoons or evenings, and face financial difficulties. Furthermore, several students face serious family problems since they come from broken homes and have, in many cases, been abandoned by their parents. It is our conviction that students from poor financial and social backgrounds have the opportunity for creative learning only at school and through cultivating their skills even the students at a low cognitive level can reinforce their self-confidence and self-esteem and find a way to professional specialization and a career. The objective of this course was to study the causes and consequences of the phenomenon both at a personal and social level. Another goal was to try to prevent the problem, on the one hand, and deal with it, on the other hand. These objectives would be achieved with the help of the teachers for the timely detection of students planning to leave school so that we can intervene fast and effectively. The most important criterion for choosing the course “Current Issues in Education-Early School Leaving” of the organization ITC International Training Center, which is based in Prague, was that it offered a course which would allow trainees to share experiences and practices in their countries and provided theoretical background to different possible attitudes and approaches to the subject of the project. Six teachers of the school were selected for the mobility program, based on specific criteria, most of them heads of classes, of different specialties and with great experience. Trainees received practical experience, methodology, approaches and methods of assessment which will support students with different needs and whose use in the educational process will prevent early school leaving. Additionally, trainees developed their communicative skills with difficult students and parents and practiced their skills in preventing and handling conflicts. Moreover, teachers were offered the opportunity to meet colleagues of different nationalities within the EU, in order to discuss their background and cultural differences and build a network of teachers for future cooperation. There was diffusion of the learning outcomes. Trainees were provided with hard and soft copies of all the lesson materials which were presented to their colleagues in order to set common objectives for addressing early school leaving. Finally, through the school’s website and social media, the local community has been informed about the phenomenon of school dropouts.
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