Government plan acknowledges public work encourages youth to drop out of school

December 24, 2016

The government acknowledges that public work encourages 16 year-olds to drop out of secondary school.

Conservative print daily Magyar Nemzet has obtained a copy of an action plan prepared by the education state secretariat, the objective of which is to decrease the number of children leaving secondary school without a diploma.  The plan acknowledges that the current financial order incentivizes poor families to send children 16 and older to public work rather than school.

The documents outlines a government strategy to decrease the number of drop-outs, noting that “those countries with a relatively large number of poorly educated citizens are less competitive and progressively left farther behind in competitive rankings,” of which Hungary “is an example,.”

The action plan refers to the fact that in developed OECD countries, a secondary school diploma is the minimum requirement to enter the labor market in the 21st century, and to be an active, responsible citizen.

The document’s most important finding is that the most common cause for dropping out of school is that the parents of poor students are motivated to take children out of technical secondary schools because the scholarships and other financial remittances are less than public work wages.

The other reason is the low minimum school leaving age.

It also appears from the study that the number of youth leaving the school bench is still very high: in February 2014, out of 308,000 children, 42,000 dropped out over the course of a single school year.  Of them, 25,100 students interrupted their studies of their own accord upon reaching the age of 16, writes Magyar Nemzet. From this data it is clear that the low minimum school-leaving age fundamentally contributes to the premature termination of studies.

It is mostly the vocational schools that are affected by high drop-out rates.  Attrition mainly affects technical training: of the children prematurely leaving school, 47 percent of disappearing from vocational schools, 33 percent from technical secondary schools.

The document also mentions the fact that the current institutional system promulgates the early selection process which do not have a favorable affect on the attribution rates.  Magyar Nemzet quotes the report as saying that “the Hungarian educational system is not capable of effectively compensating for the students’ socio-cultural disadvantages,” adding that improving key competency (reading, information literacy) are important to the successful completion of a technical secondary school.

Acknowledge, but is that all?

According go the article, although it recognizes the role of public work and the lowered compulsory school age to the attribution of secondary students, the action plan does not provide for a reevaluation of the minimum school leaving age, nor the minimum age for employment in public work.  Rather, it merely proposes to help identify those schools threatened by attrition with extraordinary supports or a review of the teachers’ career path.