Young people from disadvantaged neighbourhoods run a greater risk of dropping out of school, but are firmly convinced that education is a stepping stone for advancement in life, according to the conclusions of a European study in which the University of Antwerp participated. The researchers call on schools to invest more in guiding students’ career choices, as well as in discipline, and fighting bullying and segregation.
The Reducing Early School Leaving in Europe (RESL.eu) project, coordinated by the University of Antwerp, studied the situation in nine European Union (EU) countries for five years. In Belgium, its target group included some 3,600 students aged 14 to 16 years in schools considered vulnerable in Ghent and Antwerp. Another group of young people aged 16-24 were also questioned within the framework of a qualitative survey.
The researchers found that 90% of young people felt that a good education was the best way to get ahead in life, an opinion shared by their parents. “This positive attitude is something from which we can draw inspiration as educators,” said one of the researchers. “The role of teachers also appears to be fundamental: young people often explain that a teacher made a difference in their career. Structural support measures are therefore necessary since the success of our education evidently cannot be based solely on this aspect.”
Moreover, the results from the countries covered are comparable, the researchers found, even if the countries of Southern Europe have been more affected by the economic crisis, while, in the United Kingdom, many more young people drop out of school than on the continent.