Latvia makes the grade on EU target for early school leavers

Latvia is one of 16 European Union countries that see fewer than 9% of pupils ending their education early, according to Eurostat data published May 23. 

In 2023, the share of 'early school leavers' (young people aged 18-24 leaving early from education and training) in the EU was 9.5%. The share has steadily decreased over the last 10 years (from 11.8% in 2013), bringing the EU members closer to the target of reducing the rates of early school leavers to below 9.0% by 2030.

Latvia already makes the grade in that respect, with 7.7% of students ending their education early. However, there is some cause for concern in that the figure is a full percentage point up on 2022's equivalent figure of 6.7%, bucking the generally declining trend of recent years. As recently as 2016, one in every ten pupils was leaving school early in Latvia.

The 2023 figure for Lithuania was 6.4%, while for Estonia it was 9.7%.

Across Europe, more young men left education and training early than women, 11.3% of men vs 7.7% of women. The share of young men decreased from 13.6% in 2013 to 11.3% in 2023. At the same time, the share of young women fell from 10.0% in 2013 to 7.7% in 2023. 

Compared with 2013, 15 EU countries reported a smaller share of early leavers in 2023, with Portugal reporting the highest decrease (-10.9 percentage points (pp)), followed by Spain (-9.9 pp) and Malta (-7.1 pp). Germany recorded the biggest increase (+3.0 pp), followed by Denmark (+2.2 pp) and Slovenia (+1.5 pp).

Data show that 16 EU countries have already met the EU-level target of 9.0% for 2030. The lowest shares of early leavers from education and training were recorded in Croatia (2.0%), Poland and Greece (each 3.7%), and Ireland (4.0%).

At the other end of the range, the EU countries that reported the highest shares of early leavers in 2023 were Romania (16.6%), Spain (13.7%), Germany (12.8%), and Hungary (11.6%).

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