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The Drop Out Study Perspectives, Experiences and Calls for Action from Post-Socialist Countries Albania, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mongolia, S lovakia, and Tajikistan By

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The Drop Out Study

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The Drop Out Study

Perspectives, Experiences and Calls for Action from Post-Socialist Countries

Albania, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mongolia, Slovakia, and TajikistanBy

Mercedes del RosarioTeachers College, Columbia University50th Anniversary Conference of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES)Hawaii, March 14-18, 2006


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Shared Perspectives

  • Framed against their respective constitutional provisions declaring education as a right, compulsory education is offered free to all the citizens of the participating countries

  • Aimed at getting to the roots of the drop out problem and the reasons behind its occurrence, the drop out study situated the drop out incidence along the current policies and legislation on drop out vis-à-vis the compulsory education programs of the participating countries


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Summary of Experiences

  • Legislations on Drop out and Compulsory Education

    • All six countries had their respective legislations providing for compulsory education

    • Specific provisions on age-grade levels varied from country to country

    • Compulsory education is offered free to all the citizens of the participating countries

    • Enabling laws, mostly in the form or Education Laws, govern the enforcement of compulsory education.

    • The respective Ministries of Education of each country are tasked to be the lead implementing agencies for all matters related to education, including compulsory education.


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Summary of Experiences

  • No laws, mandates, regulations or similar policy instruments on the mitigation or eradication of the drop out problem were found to be legislated, enacted, ordered or enforced

  • Not all countries had provisions on penalties

    • Albania: the parents are legally responsible and held liable for children dropping out with the local governments as the enforcers.

    • Latvia: the parents are the ones legally responsible and liable, the local governments are the enforcers, and the penalties are decided by the Administrative Committee

    • Slovakia: parents will stop benefits if their children incurred unexcused absences for 15 hours on a given month

    • Mongolia no provisions


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Summary of Experiences

  • Inconsistent Definitions, Unreliable Data and the “Politics of Statistics’

    • The accuracy of statistics on the number of drop outs in all the six countries was at best questionable

    • All countries reported that their extant data on drop out could not be relied on since the reported figures by the Ministries of Education, the national statistics and census offices or registers of populations widely varied

    • Confusion on what or who a drop out is. In the case of Kazakhstan, for example, the fine lines between drop out, non-attendance or not-enrolled were so blurred that it was difficult to distinguish one from the other.


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Summary of Experiences

  • The definition of who a drop out is materially affects how drop outs are counted. The number of drop outs and those actually enrolled, in turn, have grave financial implications since school budgets are contingent on the head count of students as was observed in Mongolia.

  • “Politics of statistics on the issue of school drop out [1],” where figures of drop out rates are conveniently inflated to secure international grants and funding and retroactively deflated once the funds are granted.

  • Because of figure manipulation, official statistics and records on drop out rate are, at the very least, inconsistent.

    [1] Steiner-Khamsi, Stolpe and Amgaabazar (2004). Rural School Development Project: Evaluation Report. p.85. (unpublished).


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Summary of Experiences

  • Drop Out Reasons

    • Poverty was the number one reason behind the drop out problem as reported by all participating countries

    • Need to work or help at home

    • Distance from school/lack of transport (e.g., Mongolia)

    • Family relocation or forced migration due to civil war (Tajikistan 1992-1997)

    • Family circumstances (alcoholism, lack of communication between parents and children; uneducated and/or unemployed parents)

    • Health of student or parent

    • Influence of friends who are themselves truants or drop-outs

    • Bullying by peers


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Summary of Experiences

  • Negative perception of the value of school education in finding a job or earning money (Tajikistan);

  • Negative perception about the relevance of the curriculum to practical learning;

  • Institutionalized discrimination against particular ethnic groups (as in the case of the Roma children) or against those coming from rural areas (Mongolia)

  • Unfriendly school environment and negative teacher attitude

  • Lack of motivation or interest of students

  • Lack of social and communication skills of students;

  • Lack of dormitories (Mongolia)


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Calls for Action

  • Legislations, rules and regulations

    • Strengthen enforcement of compulsory education

    • Systemize and streamline collaborative data collection among the different government agencies from the school levels to local and the national central offices

    • Poverty alleviation legislations, initiatives and measures should be concerted to provide opportunities for sustained employment and income generation especially to poor families

    • Separate policy instruments in the form of mandates, regulations, and/or incentives specifically addressing the drop out issue should be enacted.

  • Initiate schools, parents, teachers and community advocacy

  • Improve school environment


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Summary of Indicators

  • Income level /poverty level (Low income rate, with low-income threshold set at 60% of median income (with breakdowns by gender, age, most frequent activity status, household type and tenure status; as illustrative examples, the values for typical households);

  • Prolonged unexcused absences and high truancy;

  • Untracked transfers between schools especially, from rural schools to city schools;

  • Big family (4 or more children with 1 or 2 children who already dropped out);

  • After school work; youth unemployment rate (e.g. among 17-24 year olds); and

  • Early school leavers (defined as having left school before obtaining basic


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