Navigation path

Early school leaving

What's the problem?

Early school leaving is linked to unemployment, social exclusion, and poverty. There are many reasons why some young people give up education and training prematurely: personal or family problems, learning difficulties, or a fragile socio-economic situation. The way the education system is set up and the environment in individual schools are also important factors.

Since there is not a single reason for early school leaving, there are no easy answers. Policies to reduce early school leaving must address a range of triggers and combine education and social policy, youth work and health related aspects such as drug use or mental and emotional problems.

What has been done so far?
  • EU countries have committed to reducing the average share of early school leavers to less than 10% by 2020;
  • In June 2010 education ministers agreed on a framework for coherent, comprehensive, and evidence-based policies to tackle early school leaving. They will work together and exchange best-practices and knowledge on effective ways to address early school leaving;
  • Between 2011 and 2013 a working group on early school leaving, bringing together policy makers and practitioners from nearly all EU countries, as well as Norway, Iceland, and Turkey, has looked at good practice examples in Europe and exchanged experiences in reducing early school leaving. They created a Final Reportpdf(800 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  that outlined 12 key messages for policy makers and translated them into practical tools through a checklist on comprehensive policies and an annex with practice examples from several EU countries illustrating the key messages.
  • In March 2012 the Commission organised a conference on policies to reduce early school leaving. One year later, policy developments on early school leaving in eight EU countries were reviewed.
  • The Working Group on Schools Policy (2014-2015) created policy messagespdf(574 kB) Choose translations of the previous link  identifying key conditions for implementing a whole school approach to tackling early school leaving, as well as an online 'European Toolkit for Schools', which offers policy makers and practitioners a wealth of resources and practical examples of effective practices to promote educational success and prevent early school leaving.
  • In 2015, the Council adopted conclusions on reducing early school leaving and promoting success in school.
What are the next steps?

A working group on school policy will continue the cooperation between EU countries.


How can we help?