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Early dropout: The case of Uruguay beyond numbers
Unformatted Document Text:  failure and the consequent early dropout. According to the Uruguayan National Household Survey of 2001, while only 62% of teenagers of mothers with a low level of education (6 or less years of education) complete the first three years of secondary school (Ciclo Básico), 94% of students whose mothers have a high level of education (13 years of education and up) finish the first three years. In addition to the family, many school factors also increase the risk of dropout. First, there are issues strictly related to the environment or the so called ecological factors, such as the average socio-economic level of the students and the adequacy of infrastructure. Previous studies emphasize the role of the school’s socio-cultural context for students´ academic performance and career expectations. A positive peer effect or contagious effect can neutralize the impact of a disadvantageous family situation. A negative school context may have the opposite effect (MESyFOD y UTU/BID, 2000). Secondly, school context also encompasses infrastructure. Overcrowded classrooms are associated with low motivation of students and teachers. Thirdly, there are contextual factors related to the school staff: low pedagogical training, high rotation and also the image and low expectations they have of their students, affects the probability of students abandoning school (Brembeck, 1977; Mortimore, 1988; Fullan, 1985; García Huidobro, 2000; ECLAD, 2003). 3

Authors: Gelber, Denisse.
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failure   and   the   consequent   early   dropout.   According   to   the   Uruguayan   National 
Household Survey of 2001, while only 62% of teenagers of mothers with a low level of 
education (6 or less years of education) complete the first three years of secondary school 
(Ciclo Básico), 94% of students whose mothers have a high level of education (13 years 
of education and up) finish the first three years.
In addition to the family, many school factors also increase the risk of dropout. 
First,   there   are   issues   strictly   related   to   the   environment   or   the   so   called   ecological 
factors, such as the average socio-economic level of the students and the adequacy of 
infrastructure. 
Previous   studies   emphasize  the  role   of the  school’s   socio-cultural   context  for 
students´   academic   performance   and   career   expectations.   A   positive   peer   effect   or 
contagious   effect  can  neutralize   the  impact   of a  disadvantageous   family  situation.  A 
negative school context may have the opposite effect (MESyFOD y UTU/BID, 2000). 
Secondly, school context also encompasses infrastructure. Overcrowded classrooms are 
associated with low motivation of students and teachers. 
Thirdly, there are contextual factors related to the school staff: low pedagogical 
training,   high   rotation   and   also   the   image   and   low   expectations   they   have   of   their 
students,   affects   the   probability   of   students   abandoning   school   (Brembeck,   1977; 
Mortimore, 1988; Fullan, 1985; García Huidobro, 2000; ECLAD, 2003).
3


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