Cedefop and the World Bank have strengthened their long collaboration over the last year and co-organised the first knowledge-exchange seminar on early leaving from education and training, which focused on lessons for Romania, in Thessaloniki on 25 May.

The objective of this seminar, attended by Work Bank officials and Romanian key stakeholders, was to discuss the findings of Cedefop’s four-year project on the role of vocational education and training (VET) in reducing early leaving from education and training (ELET) and its applications to related policies and programmes in Romania.

Cedefop expert Irene Psifidou, who leads the project, said: ‘The project findings may help the Romanian government to better understand the broader European context and the early leaving from education and training phenomenon, key features of successful measures in other European countries, and the conditions needed to mainstream and scale up examples of good practices in Romania.’

Janssen Edelweiss Teixeira, senior education specialist at the World Bank, presented the worldwide importance of preventing early leaving:  ‘Worldwide, 100 million (1 out of 6) children will drop out before completing primary education by the end of this year. For Romania, early leavers suffer from long-term negative consequences: lower lifetime earnings and employment; greater incidence of anti-social behaviour; poorer health; lower participation in civic activities; lower education rates for their own children.’

Liliana Preoteasa, from the Ministry of National Education and Scientific Research of Romania and director of the World Bank funded ROSE project in the country, pointed out that 100 000 Romanian youths were in 2011-12 without the prospect of continuing on to tertiary education.

While the EU target is to reduce early leaving from education and training to below 10% by 2020, Romania (18.1% as of 2014) is struggling to reach its own target set to 11.3%. What is alarming is that the average dropout rate increased from 2.2% (2009) to 3.8% (2011), with higher rates in technological high schools (5.3%) and in rural high schools (7% in grade 11).

ELET prevention/mitigation is a top priority for Romania. With a newly adopted strategy to tackle early leaving, Romania is faced with a difficult reality as more than 82 000 students failed the Baccalaureate exam in 2013-14.