Lithuania’s early school leaving rate is decent, but needs improvement

19 November 2013, Last updated at, 10:31 EET
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author: O. Posaškova

The European Network of Education Councils (EUNEC) 3-day conference, Early School Leavers, during which the issue of early school leavers will be discussed, has started at the Seimas.

It is estimated that over six million young people in the EU leave school with only primary education certificates. “Such people face serious challenges when looking for a job, are unemployed more often, and depend on social allowances. This slows economic growth and societal development. Studies also show that those without secondary education are less involved in democratic processes and are less active citizens,” noted Audronė Pitrėnienė, Chair of the Seimas Committee on Education, Science, and Culture, speaking about the significance of the early school leaving problem.

In his opening remarks, Adrie van der Rest, Chair of EUNEC, said that in 2012 12.8% of EU citizens didn't have secondary education. He stressed that huge differences existed across Member States. Mrs Pitrėnienė indicated that Lithuania was among the better countries in terms of early school leavers, with a rate of about 7%. “Nevertheless, we have to monitor the situation closely and look for ways to improve it. Lithuania is a small country, and even 7% is huge for us. […] Time and again, I have attended meetings where Lithuania’s rate of early school leavers was presented as exemplary. I’m sure that we can and have to improve it,” she said.

Speaking about the situation in Lithuania, Mrs Pitrėnienė thought that our country was insufficiently using information technologies to deal with the problems of attendance and early school leaving. “I support the idea that this issue can be tackled by modernizing schools and education, and including society at large into the dialogue about education. [...] Besides the caring effort of communities, schools, and social services or means of control, I think we should also improve the competences of institutions and individuals: look for ways to motivate pupils, balance study loads, address the needs of pupils better, and manage conflicts more effectively,” she suggested.

Mr Rest pointed out that variations of this problem weren’t only across Member States – a data analysis showed gender differences as well: the number of girls with secondary education was 24% higher than boys.

The Chair of EUNEC repeated the European Commission’s goal – to decrease the number of early school leavers to 10% by 2020. “We have to provide more flexible study conditions to decrease the number of early school leavers,” he said.

Reminder: on 18 November (Monday) at 12.30 pm the event participants' press conference will be held (at the Seimas Press Conference Hall, II palace).

The event’s complete programme is available here.

The EUNEC annual conference, Early School Leavers (except for working party sessions), will be streamed live on the Seimas website and the Lithuanian Presidency of the EU Council parliamentary dimension website.


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