NEWS

Number of junior high school dropouts is worryingly high

IV. Non-completion of compulsory education in the 13 regions of the country in 2001, according to age group. When looking at the percentage of males and females aged 15 and over who never finished junior high in the 13 regions of the country (2001 census figures), according to age group, it is clear that the greatest divergence between the regions is to be found in the age groups 20-24, 25-29 and 30-34. The smallest divergence is to be found in those aged 65 and over. – Attica has the smallest percentage in all age groups, apart from 15 to 19-year-olds (where Western Macedonia is first), of those who did not finish junior high. – The region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace has the highest proportion of those who did not finish junior high in the age groups 15-24, 30-39 and 45-54, Epirus, in the 40-44 age group, and Western Macedonia, in the 25-29 and over-55 age groups. V. Non-completion of compulsory education in the 13 regions of the country in 2001, according to sex and age group. When the data is divided by sex, large differences can be observed between age groups for those who did not finish junior high in the country’s 13 regions. The greatest differences between the regions can be observed in the age groups 20-24, 25-29 and 30-34 and the smallest in the over 65s for both men and women. But differences are greater for females in the age groups 15-49 and lower in the age groups 50 and over. – For both males and females, Attica has the lowest proportion of those who have not finished junior high, with the exception of the 15-19 age group, where Western Macedonia leads. – Among males, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace has the highest proportion of those who have not finished junior high school in the 15-19, 30-34, 45-59 and over-80 age groups; the Ionian Islands, in the 20-24 age group; Western Greece, in the 25-29 and 35-44 age groups, and Western Macedonia in the 60-79 age group. – Among females, Eastern Macedonia and Thrace has the highest proportion of those who have not finished junior high in the 15-19 and over-85 age groups, Western Macedonia for the 40-49, 60-79 age groups, Epirus for the 50-54 age group and Crete for the 55-59 age group. – The widest gap between the percentages of males and females who have not finished junior high is to be found in the Northern Aegean, followed by Eastern Macedonia and Thrace. Crete has the smallest gap. – A smaller proportion of females than males aged 15-34 have not finished junior high. But in other age groups, the proportion of women who have not finished junior high is higher than that of men, for all regions of the country. There are exceptions: In Eastern Macedonia and Thrace in the 15-29 age groups, and Thessaly and Epirus in the 30-34 age groups, more men than women have finished junior high. Conclusions Despite the great progress made in education, a large proportion of the population aged 15 and over – nearly 40 percent – have not finished junior high, a figure that rises to more than 50 percent among the over-50s. The most worrying finding is that 11.7 percent of 20 to 24-year-olds, 13.2 percent of 25 to 29-year-olds and 17 percent of 29 to 34-year-olds have not completed compulsory education as laid down by the Constitution. This, for obvious reasons, constitutes a major problem in the country’s educational system, especially within the context of the European Union and labor market demand. The causes need to be investigated in the country as a whole and each of the 13 regions separately. Efforts should be made and the necessary measures taken to tackle the phenomenon and curb it in younger age groups. To this end, a study of those regions where the percentage of junior high school dropouts is low would be helpful. Dealing with those aged over 15 who have not finished junior high will require the institution of lifelong learning courses. While these should also be aimed at older people, they must, as least, be instituted for the younger age groups. Second-opportunity schools (primary, junior and senior high) should be set up, with special emphasis on the regions where the problem is more acute. Central government as well as local authorities must persuade parents and guardians, as well as pupils, that present-day society requires the completion of compulsory education. Failure to do so will have serious repercussions on life and work. To achieve a drastic reduction in the number of those who have not finished junior high, the Education Ministry must play the major role along with other bodies, such as university teacher training departments, the Labor and Social Security Ministry, trade unions and employers’ organizations. Obviously, the State will have to introduce legislation to provide the necessary incentives and expenditure.