Keeping teenagers interested in education until at least the age of 18 is increasingly important, according to a new report from Eurydice, the European Union information network.
As part of a 10-year strategy to boost economic growth, the European Commission has set a target to reduce school drop-out rates from 14.3 per cent in 2009 to below 10 per cent by 2020.
It recommends that countries put prevention, intervention and compensation measures in place, with the last aimed at re-engaging students who have already left education.
The Education and Training in Europe 2020 report sets out what has been achieved in this area since 2011, finding that even countries where fewer than 6 per cent of teenagers leave school early have been working to reduce rates still further.
The most common strategy, adopted by 21 of the 28 surveyed countries, is to widen access to early childhood education and improve its quality.
High-quality preschool education has been shown - in international studies such as the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the Programme for International Student Assessment - to have a beneficial effect on children's achievement, particularly among the disadvantaged.
The Eurydice report comes as a study in the UK finds that one in five children born in 2000 is at risk of being Neet (not in education, employment or training) between the ages of 16 and 24.
EARLY SCHOOL LEAVERS RATE IN EUROPE, 2012
Czech Republic 5.5%
Source: Figure 1.1 (page 18). bit.lytes_eurydice_report.