Dáil Éireann - Volume 568 - 10 June, 2003

Written Answers. - Early School Leavers.

  104. Ms Enright asked the Minister for Education and Science the latest statistical information relating to early school leaving rates; the amount spent by his Department to combat this problem for every year since 1999; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15794/03]

  Minister for Education and Science (Mr. N. Dempsey): The objective of achieving a 90% retention rate to completion of upper second-level or equivalent by 2006 is a key target of the Government's national anti-poverty strategy. The latest information, published in the NESF report of 2002 on early school leavers, indicated a retention level to completion of senior cycle of 82%, with 3% leaving school without any qualifications. My Department is currently preparing an up-to-date analysis of pupil retention rates and the results of this will be available shortly. My Department is also funding an annual school leavers survey which is being conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute in respect of leavers from 2000-01 and this will be [135] available in the coming months. I will arrange for the latest statistical information to be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as it becomes available.

  My Department's policy in relation to the retention of young people who are at risk of early school leaving is to support young people in school and to support schools to adapt to the needs of the young people experiencing difficulties. It also involves the development of a range of appropriate interventions in the community to support pupils, who are still of compulsory school-going age and are outside the formal school system, with a view to supporting their progression over time back to mainstream education.

  Provision by my Department for programmes specifically designed to tackle educational disadvantage up to and including upper second-level education amounts to approximately €145 million in the current year. All of these programmes contribute either directly or indirectly to combating the problem of early school leaving. The approximate expenditure in each year since 1999 on programmes with a specific focus on this area, including the school completion programme, the National Educational Welfare Board and youth encounter projects, is as follows:

€m

1999

 3  

2000

10.3

2001

12.2

2002

16  

The equivalent allocation for 2003 is €29.2 million, allowing for considerable additional investment this year both in the school completion programme and in the development of the services of the National Educational Welfare Board.