School dropout problem lingers

The number of children dropping out of school on Crete and most of Greece’s other islands means that across the country some 14 percent of teenagers aged between 13 and 18 are not attending any classes, according to figures released yesterday. Education authorities have managed to almost eradicate the practice of children dropping out of primary school while reducing overall the number of students leaving junior and senior high school early, but the problem is still evident, the Pedagogic Institute found. Researchers found that 6.09 percent of junior high school students dropped out over the last five years, compared to 6.98 percent who were found to have quit school in 2000. The highest dropout rate was in Eastern Macedonia and Thrace (9.64 percent) – one of Greece’s poorest regions. Crete followed with a dropout rate of 8.34 percent. The figures for the Ionian and Aegean islands stand at around 7 percent. Experts said the number of children quitting school was high in these areas because many youngsters went into family businesses in the tourism industry. The dropout rate in senior high schools is almost half that in junior high schools (3.32 percent). The southern Aegean islands lead the way with 5.76 percent of students leaving school early. The Ionian Islands and Crete have the next highest rates at this level of schooling. Researchers found that the dropout rate at technical high school was alarmingly high. One in five students has been quitting the schools which were created just a few years ago. One-third of Greece’s schoolchildren reside in Attica, where the dropout rates at all types of schools were mostly found to be near the average for the whole country.

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