The Malta Independent 21 April 2019, Sunday

Study shows that Malta’s rate of early school-leavers stands at 20.4%

Thursday, 3 December 2015, 15:25 Last update: about 4 years ago

The National Observatory for Living with Dignity, as part of the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, has launched a meta-analysis of local, European and international data on early school-leaving and well-being. The analysis, entitled ‘Early School Leaving and Wellbeing in Malta and Beyond: A Statistical Analysis’, yielded several trends associated with early school-leaving. At 20.4%, Malta’s rate of early school-leavers is well above the EU average of 11.2%. Malta, in line with the rest of Europe, defines an early school-leaver as an individual in the 18-24 age bracket who is neither in education nor in training or apprenticeship and, in the case of Malta, someone who also fails to obtain five SEC exams at grades 1-7.

A 20.4%, the presence of early school-leavers aged 18-24 in our society has very serious social and economic implications. Reducing such a staggering rate is of paramount national importance.  Based on past trends it seems that, should everything remain the same, it is likely that, by approximately 2020, the early school-leaving rate in Malta could drop to 13%-14%, and by 2025, it could reach the 2020 target rate of 10%. This is an optimistic prediction since the most recent figures indicate a deceleration in the reduction of early school-leavers in Malta

During her opening speech, the President spoke about early school-leaving and the problems that this brings with it. The President said that early school-leaving is one of the social indicators of poverty and social exclusion which ‘seriously threatens the fundamental human right of living with dignity, and subsequently presents a significant obstacle when it comes to one’s wellbeing’. The President said that this problem also limits people in their life choices, and increases their risk of suffering from economic deprivation and social marginalisation. ‘All of this has devastating effects on personal, communal and social wellbeing’.

The President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society has a clear vision to promote wellbeing, recognising human relationships as fundamental for meaningful well-being to be nurtured. Its ethos expresses a commitment to “offer[ing] its contribution for the wellbeing of society by creating the space to listen, explore, discuss, learn about and research ways of enhancing these human relationships to become forces for meeting human needs, while providing opportunities for each and every individual to develop his or her full potential within a society that is inclusive and supportive.”

In its first research publication, the National Observatory for Living with Dignity has taken the initial steps towards addressing one particular facet of social exclusion—that of early school-leaving. The issue is complex, and requires in-depth analysis, further discussion, and collective efforts if it is to be addressed effectively. It is hoped that this publication will inform and spur on further policy-making and academic debate in this area, by means of its thoughtful examination of the fundamental and inextricable links between early school-leaving and well-being.

The President said that, despite having strong links with poverty, this study also shows that early school-leaving is tied to poor and subjective evaluations in one’s personal life, less efficient functioning in everyday life, and frequent experiences of negative emotions. ‘It is evident in this analysis that, generally, early school-leavers are less happy and satisfied in their lives, feel less optimistic about their future, and frequently experience social exclusion’.

This publication is particularly relevant in the current global and political climate, where the United Nations launched the Global Goals for Sustainable Development earlier this year. The work which has been undertaken by the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, through the National Observatory for Living with Dignity, aims to take one more step towards one of the identified United Nations goals of inclusive, quality, and equitable education for all, fostering an environment in which lifelong learning and well-being may simultaneously flourish.

Finally, the President said that ‘we need to strive to ensure that the educational experience provided would be satisfactory and relevant enough so that we can overcome the reasons which leave to early school-leaving, which are different for each and every individual child. We have a responsibility for all our children and therefore we must identify these reasons and offer the right support so that these children remain in the education system. Together, we can ensure the wellbeing of each individual child’. 

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