Policies to combat early school leaving

socials_5One of the central objectives of the ABJOVES project consists in exploring the design and characteristics of the policies to combat early school leaving (ESL), defined and implemented at the European, national and autonomic level.

The importance of this objective lies on the need of knowing the proposals of intervention already existing from three central scales of political decision and intervention -Europe, Nation State and Autonomous Community- around our focus of study. Specifically, it is about identifying and systematizing the different policies and programs adopted by different Autonomous Communities to face the challenge of ESL, identifying its similarities and differences, as well as its limits and opportunities to achieve the objectives they set.

One of the strong points of the ABJOVES project is the implementation of a methodology based on the realist evaluation of the policies tackling ESL. This methodology, proposed by Ray Pawson, understands that all public policies hide one concrete change theory, being this more or less explicit. That is to say, all social programs are based on hypothesis, on assumptions about the origins and causes of the “problem” which is aimed to intervene in, and the possible improvements that will be generated after the intervention of the program. Then, the objective of the realist evaluation is to identify the causal assumptions on which the policies are based; its internal logics; its reasons to be.

It consists, at the end, in problematizing the concepts that we use to analyse the educational policies and systems, without taking for granted its meaning; it consists in identifying the different representations and interpretations that hide under the concepts and educative proposals that -at first sight- may look similar or even identical; it consists in identifying the interest -manifest and latent- that lay under the conception, design and implementation of specific educational programs and policies.

Moving this logic to the field of early school leaving entails questioning on issues as the following: Why in specific contexts priority is given to some programs and not to others? Why certain political decisions obtain greater legitimacy than others, and how do these decisions are legitimated? Why certain profiles are beneficiaries in relation to others, and how does the selection of these profiles are justified? Which is the concept of educational success and failure that hides under the design of certain policies? Etc.

From this methodology, the ABJOVES project has carried out numerous interviews with technicians and politicians responsible for the design and implementation of policies to tackle the ESL, both in the European Commission as in the Ministerio de Educación and the Educatational Administrations in the different Autonomous Communities object of study in the project. Besides, a rigorous documental analysis of the principal documents produced by the Educational Administrations in relation to the programs and policies to combat ESL has been conducted.

At the moment, the different members of the project are concluding the analysis of each Autonomous Community and after that, the comparative analysis will be carried out.

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