Early School Leavers

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Essay on Early School Leavers
This essay will examine the issue of Early School Leaving. The legal definition of early school leaving in the Republic of Ireland is “non participation in school before a young person reaches the age of sixteen or before completing three years post primary education, or whichever is later”. Another useful definition is “leaving the education system without a minimum of five passes in the Leaving Certificate or equivalent qualification”. In Ireland up to nine thousand young people leave school early every year before taking the Leaving Certificate. The Leaving Certificate is the final state exam in the Irish secondary school education system. The essay will examine the factors that influence a young person’s decision to leave education early and the possible societal impacts that their decision will have for them in the future. Educational standards shape an individual’s role in society. Without a good standard of education, opportunities in society can be limited. Education can open many doors and without a good standard of education many doors will remain closed. Aristotle wrote “Education is the creation of a sound mind in a sound body. It develops man’s faculty, especially his mind, so that he may be able to enjoy the contemplation of supreme truth, goodness and beauty of which perfect happiness essentially consists”. Education is one of the most important aspects of society. It gives us knowledge of the world around us. It develops in us a perspective of looking at life, and helps us build opinions and have points of view on things in life. Education is essential in the development of values and virtues. It cultivates young people into mature individuals, individuals capable of planning for the future and taking the right decisions in life. A proper education system is vitally important for the economic growth of a nation. This is especially true today in recessionary times. A highly educated person can often be perceived as superior to others. Aristotle wrote “educated men are as much superior to uneducated as the living are to the dead”. Unfortunately in Ireland, education has often been seen as a privilege rather than a right. This argument is one which could be argued today with the increases in the cost of third level education. Many people believe that for students from lower income families and those from disadvantaged areas, third level education is becoming inaccessible. Due to other factors, many students actually leave school much earlier than completing the leaving certificate. This has been a persistent problem within the Irish education system over many years, which has seen the Department of Education introduce many programmes to try and tackle the problem. In Ireland, fourteen percent of students do not complete the Leaving Certificate (OECD 2008). There are numerous reasons why a student may leave school early. These reasons may fall into a number of categories such as personal, social, family, and economic or school based problems. Looking at the categories we can see the reasons for early school leaving. Personal issues include, low self esteem, substance misuse or abuse, learning difficulties and lack of motivation. Social issues include lifestyle, poverty and young offenders. Family issues include, parental attitude towards education, family conflict or change, rising school participation costs or family poverty. Economic issues are the Celtic Tiger and its legacy. School issues include the low level of numeracy and literacy among young people leading to poor performance and low self esteem or behavioural problems, age differences, negative relationships with teachers, the absence of counselling services in schools or poor achievement leading to lack of motivation. Early school leaving can be very disruptive to a young person’s development and have a detrimental effect on a student’s socio-economic standing in the future. The stage at which a student decides to...
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