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Almost 400 children enrolled in projects to prevent mainstream drop-out

A recent report found that more than 2,500 schoolchildren only made it as far as first or second year in 2010.

THERE ARE ALMOST 400 children under the age of 16 enrolled in projects aimed at those at risk of dropping out of mainstream education.

Details provided by Minister Ruairí Quinn show that €4 million has been spent in the last year on the various projects and centres aimed at engaging with children and retaining them in education.

On the frontline are Youth Encounter Projects, which were stablished in the 1970s as non-residential facilities for children at risk of getting into trouble with authority or are at serious risk of dropping out of mainstream school.

There are five YEPS – three in Dublin and one each in Limerick and Cork – providing 120 places for children. The current overall enrolment is 107, according to Quinn’s department and these projects receive a pay and non-pay allocation of €1.124 million to cover the employment of all ancillary staff and cover school running costs.

Life Centres, which are informal education centres established by the Christian Brothers in 1996, are also aimed at children who have dropped out of school. There are two Life Centres in Dublin and Cork which receive a grant of €114,000 towards running costs and 2,768 teaching hours under the ETB co-operation hours scheme at an estimated cost of €233,000.

Positive results

A drug treatment centre in Cork also provides services for 14-18-year-old boys including educational and training courses, and a project that was established in Dublin’s inner city to tackle the joyriding problem in the 90s also offers courses to young teens with funding from the department.

A small portion of the overall funding in the Youthreach education programme includes provision for under 16s with over 200 enrolled in associated centres.

Projects and schemes like these have shown positive results in Ireland and in other parts of Europe in retaining young people in the education system.

The most recent report on school-leavers from the Department of Education found that 4, 300 students in 2010 dropped out of mainstream education before fifth year. More than 2,500 only got as far as first or second year and a further 1,777 did not remain in school beyond that.

Read: Fee-paying students more likely to go straight to college>

Column: What happens to the people failed by our education system?>

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