Leaving school prematurely is a major issue for the French education system: data show that approximately 100 000 young people leave school early every year with no qualifications. This is nearly one pupil in 10, though lower than the 130 000 figure recorded in 2010. Although this school dropout rate of less than 10% meets the Europe 2020 strategy target to reduce school dropout rates below 10%, early leaving is still a huge problem, with many social and economic implications.
A flagship scheme against dropping out (Tous mobilisés pour vaincre le décrochage scolaire) was launched in 2014 by the Ministry of Education, and initiatives have proliferated to reverse the phenomenon: dedicated local networks, personalised guidance and support, specialised training structures. As a result of these measures, a quarter of all dropouts have gone back into continuing training.
However, the principle of a financial allowance to encourage a return to school is completely new.
What conditions are needed to qualify? It is necessary to be a secondary education pupil, aged 16 to 18, having interrupted education for over five months and having enrolled in secondary VET programme leading to a diploma registered in the national register of vocational qualifications (Répertoire national des certifications professionnelles,, RNCP).
This measure was introduced by the Higher Council of Education (Conseil supérieur de l’éducation - CSE), composed of 97 members representing the staff, users and partners of the State in educational activities. After several debates, the decision took particular account of factors of economic insecurity which undermine school attendance by pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds.
According to the estimates of the Ministry of Education, at least 12 500 pupils should benefit from this new allowance as of 2016/17 for going back into education, for a total cost of EUR 1 250 000. Some observers believe that this figure could quickly be exceeded.