A qualitative study presented to the President’s Foundation for the Well-being of Society titled “School dropout and personal and social well-being: a qualitative study” found that the school system mainly fails to ensure education for men and people of low socioeconomic status. .
The study was conducted by Professor Carmel Borg of the National Observatory for Living with Dignity and Professor Milosh Raykov, and presented to a panel discussion of various stakeholders and representatives who work in the field of social welfare in general .
President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca opened the soft launch of the study by expressing the joy of seeing representatives from various fields present and insisting that people must be reached from childhood to give them the opportunity to ‘lifelong learning.
This, she argued, would be beneficial not only for the students, but for their families, their community and the country in which they live.
ELET – Young early leavers from education and training
ELET refers to students aged 18-24 who have left compulsory school and who do not have at least 5 SEC pass grades 1 through 7 and are not in education or training.
This new terminology has been updated by the European Union to avoid confusing the cohort with dropping out of school.
According to an October 2018 report from the National Statistics Office, the school dropout rate for 2017 fell to 17.7%, a further drop from the rate of 20.3% in 2014 and 27.1% from 2009.
Despite these improvements, Malta still ranked last in the Equitable Education Index of the 2017 EU Social Justice Index.
This statistic is still above the EU average of 10.6% and far from the target of 10% by 2020.
The perspective of the study works with the general consensus that ELET is detrimental to the individual, to society and to the economy, and also takes a social justice approach to understanding the phenomenon.
This means that the ELET is seen as symptomatic of an asymmetric society where academic achievement and achievement still depend heavily on socio-economic status and where a disproportionate number of students experience no social mobility.
Phase 1 – Data analysis
The study was divided into two phases.
The first phase of the study applied data visualization techniques, exploratory analysis, inferential statistics and trend analysis to answer various key questions such as the significant associations between dropping out of school and different aspects of well-being. , including general assessment of well-being, functioning in daily life and eventual satisfaction.
The other areas explored by this first phase were the associations between dropping out of school, mental well-being and physical health; what are the work experiences, job characteristics and social status of early school leavers; what are the economic consequences of dropping out of school; and the significant associations between early school leaving and living conditions.
The study found that, among other things, groups of young and older people who left their formal education and training before completing high school are less satisfied with their education, current job and level. of life ; suffer from mental health problems and are less satisfied with their life in general.
Phase 2 – Interviews
The second phase of the study qualitatively delved into the personal stories of individuals and demonstrates the depth and profound impact of deprivation and the experience of students at home and at school and their impact on student decisions. leaving school prematurely.
They found that the decision to discontinue studies is rarely spontaneous, and is in fact often the result of a cumulative process of interaction with others, peers and the multiple contexts in which the individual would have interacted.
While truancy at school was not significantly present, respondents reported significant ‘truancy in mind’. They wandered around their troubled world while they were physically present in class.
Social isolation, bullying, rebellion, mistrust, feelings of worthlessness figured prominently in the conversation.
In addition to the need to raise awareness of the individual and social consequences of dropping out of school and of training, the study suggested taking measures focused on the early identification and treatment of the causes that lead to dropping out of school.
The study also makes several recommendations that address the ‘parental gap’ that significantly contributes to the ELET, as well as recommendations regarding school climate, community development, social regeneration and tax justice.