Students who leave school early report suffering from “intense health-related problems” more than those who further their studies, a study has confirmed. 

Published on Friday, a study by lead researcher Milosh Raykov and the National Observatory for Living with Dignity, found that people who ended their education early, at about the age of 14 years, experienced intense health-related problems more often than their counterparts who studied until they were much older. 

According to the researchers, almost half (42 per cent) of those who abandoned their studies early complained of physical ailments, which was only made worse by the low income they earned and the high levels of job insecurity they experienced. 

They also found that early school-leavers and their families were “more frequently deprived of satisfying their basic needs”. 

Students’ social background was also found to be a determining factor of their success in school. According to the researchers, it emerged through their analysis that the education attainment of both parents was “significantly associated with early exit from formal education”. 

“72 per cent of employees with low educational attainment (elementary or incomplete secondary education) have mothers with the same education attainment, eight per cent of them obtain a post-secondary certificate and only three per cent of them obtain a university degree,” they noted. 

Fathers’ educational attainment was also found to impact the level of education children went on to achieve.

72 per cent of employees with low educational attainment have mothers with the same education attainment

Call for new forms of interventions

Concluding their study with a series of recommendations, the researchers insisted that “some additional measures and new forms of interventions” were required for the early school-leaving rate to be slashed.

It was also recommended to step up efforts to identify the capacity of those with low educational attainment to re-engage in formal education and to gain the skills, knowledge and credentials that will improve their prospects in the labour market. 

Speaking at the unveiling of the study, President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca said the work provides “relevant evidence” that would help with understanding the reasons behind early school-leaving. 

“I hope that these important insights are taken into consideration by politicians and policymakers, who have a mandate to secure the best future prospects for each and every one of them, with concurrent benefits for economic growth and social cohesion,” the President said. 

She insisted that ensuring students did not abandon their studies before securing the necessary qualifications was especially important because it aided in breaking the cycles of deprivation, poverty and social exclusion. 

Read: Malta ‘unlikely’ to reach EU's school-leaving target

Ahead of the study’s publication, the Times of Malta reported that the researchers had also come to the conclusion that it was “unlikely” Malta would manage to slash the early school-leavers’ rate to 10 per cent in line with the European Union’s 2020 targets. 

Also speaking at the unveiling of the results, Observatory head Carmel Borg said it was worrying that such trends were still emerging when Malta had compulsory education until the age of 16. 

“Things are moving and the results are there. But I still feel very edgy that the numbers are very high. Are we okay with the passes we have? Have we set the bar too low?” the head of the Observatory, which falls within the President’s Foundation for the Well-being of Society, argued.


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