The education leaving age or the dropping out age or the school leaving age is the minimum school leaving arrangements of a person.
In most countries, the school leaving age does not only mean the minimum age a person is legally allowed to drop out of compulsory secondary education but also marks the age where full-time employment is deemed acceptable.
The average school leaving age around the world is 13.7 years.
A person’s school leaving age depends on where they live.
- In England, it is the last Friday of June if a person turns 16 by the end of the summer holidays.
- In Scotland, it is after 31 May or at the start of the Christmas holidays if a person turns 16 between 1 March and 30 September or between 1 October and the end of February of that year.
- In Wales, it is the last Friday of June if a person turns 16 by the end of the summer holidays of that year.
- In Northern Ireland, it is after 30 June if a person turns 16 during the school year (between 1 September and 1 July). But if a person’s birthday is between 2 July and 31, he or she has to wait until 30 June the following year.
Upon a person’s departure from schooling, he or she can do one of the following:
- start an apprenticeship or traineeship
- stay in full-time education, e.g. in a tertiary-level educational institution
- work or volunteer (for 20 hours or more a week) while in part-time education or training
Unfortunately, in countries such as Bangladesh, Laos, and Madagascar, the school leaving age is just at 10 years old while in Burma and Pakistan, students can opt to stop schooling even as early as 9 years old.
On the other hand, the governments of England and Wales have proposed a new legislation to delay students’ transition from childhood to adulthood. According to public officials, the raising of school leaving age (ROSLA) provides several key advantages:
- to ensure all students possess the common core of learning and skills, which is beneficial for knowledge-based economies;
- to promote students’ strong socialization skills essential for smooth transition into inclusive societies;
- to combat child labor and child marriages;
- to produce a higher-skilled workforce that attracts more investments to the country
- to decrease job displacement trend and overall unemployment rate
“…it’s not just learning that’s important. It’s learning what to do with what you learn and learning why you learn things that matters.” — Norton Juster, professor emeritus of design at Hampshire College
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