While discussing among partners about what would the most efficient and realistic approach should undertake in elaborating an ESL prevention initiative, have gone through the many examples of good practices offered by other Erasmus+ funded projects, trying to figure out whether is niche that others did not explore in own attempts to prevent the ESL. We were surprised by fact that while all projects we could have access to addressed the issue of ESL, targeted students as main beneficiaries, very few put a stress on teachers as actors who could have very important role in preventing the ESL. Teachers seem to regarded as specialists who are not supposed to proactively get involved in ESL and therefore need no special attention and training and further support on this issue.
Our experience goes against this assumption, our project proposal goes towards teachers as main actors in preventing the ESL and proposes to bring the teachers more towards the centre of effort, together with the other individual and institutional actors in community who are already there. Our project intends to invest in teachers as front line soldiers in common fight against ESL. It will support schools to tackle ESL through improving teachers’ individual skills, improving their collaboration internally as well as with students, with parents and other community stakeholders, in collaborative and holistic approach.
We are aware however, of fact that ESL as phenomenon integrates several vectors which are not necessarily education related: lack of interest the parents’ side, poor transport infrastructure, poor social and economic support students at risk of ESL and their families, lack of efficient ESL prevention mechanisms, poor cooperation between non-school institutional stakeholders.
We are aware as well of fact that teachers cannot act alone in schools and cannot act beyond their schools either, if not supported. This project proposal intends to support their school, as institutional stakeholder, take bolder and more assertive role, in effort to prevent ESL, these community and to proactively reach out other stakeholders the situation of risk occurs.
We are aware as well that the teachers, school and even the school & community partnerships can act effectively only up to a certain level of ESL prevention where their own proper strings and levers can reach but they have to refer other risk factors such as social and economic condition or poor infrastructure to higher levels of decision. Due to limitations of funding and time, this project cannot have impact on economic & social condition of target beneficiaries and it target students at risk have access to schools, and are already in school. This project is not about social but educational RESCUE.
Our project is planning to approach these challenges by implementing ESL prevention mechanism is not only simply formal part of mainstream school management systems, identifiable by stakeholders outside the school system has mainly “school based and school owned task” easily lost in between other tasks, but well-defined, community owned and shared and easily accessible, genuine ESL prevention mechanism.
This mechanism will have intrinsic reason for being and goal it own. Furger (2008) shows that young students drop out of school for multiple reasons, some which have own difficulties and skills, with their families and contexts, some with the (perceived) relationship with the school and the teachers etc. Therefore this mechanism will not be triggered only by truancy and absenteeism as warning signals for ESL, as they do now. The tools we will create will help teachers identify and interpret multitude other types of signals and input them into the mechanism that will automatically generate action waves. These waves will generated in school and by school but will reverberate outside the school as well, through relevant stakeholders: the family, in group of friends etc, anywhere the risk factors tend to determine the students to leave school early.