How do vulnerable youth complete secondary education? The key role of families and the community
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This article demonstrates how the engagement of families and other community members in decision-making processes in a school may prevent early school leaving among vulnerable youth and simultaneously increase their enrolment in secondary education. Based on a large-scale, EU-funded study, this article
focuses on the case of one school located in a deprived area inhabited mainly by Roma people-one of the vulnerable populations most affected by early school leaving-where a specific egalitarian participatory process of Roma families was implemented. According to the analysis of the collected data, this participation contributed to a reduction in student dropout rates during primary education, led to the implementation of compulsory secondary education in the same school, and increased the numbers of students who graduated from secondary school. These achievements transformed the educational and social prospects of vulnerable youth who were following the path to failure and who now dream of continuing their studies. Furthermore, these youth are acting as role models for younger children in primary education, helping to prevent school dropout and early school leaving from early ages. The case shows how the community participation in decision-making processes transformed the climate and expectations regarding education in the neighbourhood.