School dropout: in Italy 3 regions still exceed 15%

In recent weeks, with the start of the school year, students from all over Italy are returning to school, at different times depending on the region.

In Campania, lessons begin today, while students from 6 other regions and the 2 autonomous provinces already returned yesterday or – in the case of the province of Bolzano – on 5 September.

18 out of 21 the regions and autonomous provinces in which students are starting school again this week.

The last to return will be girls and boys from Sicily and Valle d’Aosta, on 19 September.

In the last school year, when lessons resumed, there were more than 6 and a half million enrolled in the Italian state schools, of which 2.3 million in the primary schools, almost 1.6 in the middle schools and about 2.7 million in the high schools. Of these, more than half in high schools (51%), just under a third in technicians (31.7%) and 17.3% in professionals. The almost 850,000 kindergarten children are excluded from this calculation.

Students at the start of last school year, by level and chosen path
Number of state school students at the start of the academic year 2021/22

SOURCE: elaboration by Openpolis – Con i Bambini based on Ministry of Education data
(last update: Friday 1 October 2021)

To these must be added the approximately 300,000 pupils of paritarie, for a total of over 6.8 million students of Italian schools, from primary to high school.

Millions of girls and boys who are starting the school year in these hours. Unfortunately, according to the most recent statistics, there are many who could leave school early.

Students who leave school early

In a society where the level of education is increasingly important for access to work, and therefore also for avoiding the risk of social exclusion, the fight against early school leaving is a central objective.

For this reason, already in the context of the 2020 agenda, the European Union had set as a target that young Europeans between the ages of 18 and 24 without a high school diploma (or professional qualification) were less than 10% of the total.

An objective centered at European level: in the first year of the pandemic, the share of young EU students leaving the education system early was 9.9%. Italy has for some years reached its national target (16%). However, despite the improvement over the last decade (at the beginning of the 10s the rate was close to 20%), our country remains behind in the European comparison.

In 2021, Italy is third in the EU for the share of early school leavers
Percentage of young people aged between 18 and 24 who have at most a secondary school leaving certificate in EU countries (2021)

To measure school dropouts, the methodological choice adopted at European level is to use the percentage of young people aged between 18 and 24 who only have a middle school diploma as an indirect indicator. These also include those who have obtained a first-level regional professional qualification with a duration of less than two years.

SOURCE: elaboration by openpolis – Con i bambini based on Eurostat data
(last update: Thursday 28 April 2022)

Among the EU countries, ours is one of those where the problem of early abandonment remains more substantial. In 2021, it is the third nation with the most dropouts (12.7%), after Romania (15.3%) and Spain (13.3%).

It should also be underlined that the continental objective, in view of 2030, was further lowered by one point (9%) with a resolution of the European Council of February 2021. Achieving it means for our country first of all reducing the wide territorial gaps that still resist on this aspect.

In Sicily, 21.2% of residents aged between 18 and 24 left school early: almost 10 points more than the national average. Followed by 2 large southern regions, both above the 15% share: Puglia (17.6%) and Campania (16.4%).

In Sicily, more than one in 5 young people left their studies ahead of time
Percentage of young people between the ages of 18 and 24 who have at most a secondary school leaving certificate (2021)

SOURCE: elaboration by openpolis – Con i bambini based on Istat data
(last update: Wednesday 13 April 2022)

There are 5 regions below the 9% threshold: Basilicata (8.7%), Friuli-Venezia Giulia (8.6%), Abruzzo (8%), Marche (7.9%) and Molise (7, 6%). In addition to these, another 3 are still below 10%. These are Emilia-Romagna (9.9%), Veneto (9.3%) and Lazio (9.2%).

3 regions that exceed 15%: Sicily, Puglia and Campania.

In order to intervene effectively on the problem, similar territorial differences require a mapping of the population potentially exposed to the risk of abandonment. From this point of view, as we have had the opportunity to tell, there is currently a lack of updated data with local granularity on early school leaving. Even if the work of the permanent census of Istat will allow in the future to deepen the theme in this direction, today many of the data on the phenomenon are updated to the general census of 2011.

Much more up-to-date and granular are instead the data on the number of residents, which allow a mapping of the population of school and training age. It is a first reference for evaluating which territories have the highest incidence of children and young people of training age.

How many young people are of formative age

in Italy theschool obligationaccording to the law 296/2006, lasts 10 years and therefore goes from 6 to 16 years of age. A path aimed at the subsequent achievement of either a high school qualification or a professional qualification, at least three years, within the age of 18. In any case, even for those who have completed compulsory schooling, there is an educational obligation: the right and duty to attend training activities up to the age of 18.

In 2021, there were 7.2 million children between the ages of 6 and 18, 12.2% of the resident population. With an incidence that varies greatly throughout the country: from 13.71% in Campania to 10.53% in Liguria.

At the local level, the territories in which the presence of children and young people of formative age is greatest are the metropolitan city of Naples (14.49%), the province of Caserta (14.09%), Alto Adige (13, 71%) and Crotone (13.60%). While they do not reach 10% in the province of Oristano (9.76%) and slightly exceed it in Southern Sardinia (10.03%), in Trieste (10.19%) and in the Ferrara area (10.21%).

Where children of formative age live in Italy
Percentage of residents aged 6-18 (2021)

SOURCE: elaboration by openpolis – Con i bambini based on Istat data
(last update: Friday 1 January 2021)

Among the major Italian cities, if we isolate the municipalities with at least 300,000 inhabitants, the figure for the capital of Campania stands out (13.72%). Followed by Palermo (13.25%), Catania (12.89%) and Rome (11.98%). A trend that confirms that the incidence is higher in the southern centres.

Children between the ages of 6 and 18 in the 10 most populous Italian municipalities
Percentage of residents aged 6-18 (2021)

SOURCE: elaboration by openpolis – Con i bambini based on Istat data
(last update: Friday 1 January 2021)

On the contrary, the share of young people aged between 6 and 18 is lower in the cities of the centre-north. In fact, they are just over 10% in municipalities such as Genoa and Bologna.

How many residents are of formative age, municipality by municipality
Percentage of residents aged 6-18 (2021)

To find out how many residents between 6 and 18 years old exist in your area, click on the Search… box and enter the name of your municipality.

SOURCE: elaboration by openpolis – Con i bambini based on Istat data
(last update: Friday 1 January 2021)

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The #Conibambini Observatory, created by Con i Bambini and Openpolis as part of the Fund for the fight against child educational poverty, provides data and content on the phenomenon in Italy in data journalism mode, in an open and systemised format, to stimulate a data-based information. The aim is to promote an informed debate on the condition of minors in Italy, starting from the educational, cultural and social opportunities offered, and to help the decision maker through the elaboration of original analyzes and insights.

School dropout: in Italy 3 regions still exceed 15%