Numbers released by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities in Regions show that more than 30% of young Swedes drop out of school before completing the work to receive their high school diploma. In Sweden, students are expected to complete the course of study in the secondary schools known as gymnasiet in three years, and the researchers find that more than a third of them fail to do so. Even after the fourth year, more than 25% drop out without graduating.
Unlike in the US, students who are going on to secondary education in Sweden have multiple options, allowing them to enroll in academic programs designed for those seeking admissions to the University, or programs with a larger vocational aspect to ease transition directly into the workforce.
In the municipality rated the worst, only 42% of students left school with a secondary degree, in stark contrast to the best-performing area that boasts a graduation rate of 88%.
According to the study, which is based on figures from students who started high school between 2005 and 2007, about three to five percent more boys than girls fail to complete high school in Sweden.
“Every student who leaves high school without a degree is a tragic failure for the individual and a blow for the school,” SALAR’s Maria Stockhaus said in a statement.
Still, in the long-term, the picture isn’t as dire as it appears. Many of those who drop out of secondary schools, take advantage of adult education opportunities to continue their education, and, as a result, 90% of 24-year-old Swedes have a high school diploma.
The continuing education opportunities, though they are useful, do cost the government additional money and push back the time when a student can fully participate in the workforce. Therefore, even with that cheery statistic, it is to the benefit of the schools to increase the number of their students who graduate on time, and without resorting to additional educational aid.
The report recommends that, to improve the chances of a student continuing to graduation, academic support personnel put more effort towards helping kids choose the secondary school path that suits their interests and skills best.
“The reasons for why people abandon their studies varies. In order to successfully implement the measures we propose, there needs to be a common view on the part of school staff as well as cooperation between schools, home, the business community, civil society, and social services,” said Stockhaus.
“With goal oriented, hard, and persistent work, municipalities and schools can prevent students from dropping out of high school.”