European Lifelong Guidance Policy Network Database, ELGPN Database



Early school-leaver


Early school-leavers are individuals below the statutory school-leaving age who have withdrawn from or left an education or training programme without completing it.


In an EU context this term has a specific technical meaning. The early school-leaving rate is defined by the proportion of the population aged 18-24 with only lower secondary education or less and no longer in education or training. Early school-leavers are therefore those who have only achieved pre-primary, primary, lower secondary or a short upper secondary education of less than 2 years (ISCED 0, 1, 2 or 3c short), and include those who have only a pre-vocational or vocational education which did not lead to an upper secondary certification.
Early school-leaver needs to be distinguished from drop-out which is a more general term.


EU Council Recommendation on Early School Leaving (2011). Official Journal of the European Union. Available from Internet:

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ELGPN Glossary, drop-out, early school leaving, young people