School leaving age

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World map to show school leaving age

The school leaving age is the minimum age a person is legally allowed to leave compulsory secondary education. Most countries have their school leaving age set the same as their minimum full-time employment age, thus allowing smooth transition from education into employment, whilst a few have it set just below the age at which a person is allowed to be employed.

In contrast, there are numerous countries that have several years between their school leaving age and their legal minimum employment age, thus in some cases preventing any such transition for several years. Countries which have their employment age set below the school leaving age (mostly developing countries), risk giving children the opportunity to leave their education early to earn money for their families.

Leaving age by country[edit]

Some countries have different leaving or employment ages, but in certain countries like China and Japan, the average age at which people graduate is 15, depending upon part-time or full-time learning or employment. The table below states the school leaving ages in countries across the world and their respective minimum employment age, showing a comparison of how many countries have synchronised these ages. All information is taken from the Right to Education Project's table unless otherwise indicated.[1]

Legend

Color legend Ages legend
  School leaving age higher
0 denotes education is not compulsory. (13) denotes part-time employment available from 13
  Employment age higher
0 denotes no minimum employment age as children could be, in theory, employed from birth
  Both ages synchronised
denotes no information available
  No information / No age set
? denotes the age set is unknown


Africa[edit]

# Country De jure Education/
Employment gap
Year Notes
School leaving age Employment age
 Algeria 16 0 2011
 Angola 12 14 2 2010
 Benin  ? 14 2005
 Botswana 0 15 15 2004
 Burkina Faso 16 15 -1 2009
 Burundi 12 16 4 2010
 Cameroon 14 0 2001
 Cape Verde 16 14 -2 2001
 Chad 15 0 -15 2007
 Comoros 14 0 -14 1998
 Congo 16 0 2006
 Egypt 14 0 2010
 Eritrea 13 14 1 2007
 Ethiopia 0 0 2005
 Gabon 16 0 2001
 Gambia 0 0 2000
 Ghana 15 12 -3 2005
 Guinea 16 0 2012
 Kenya 0 0 2006
 Libya 15 0 2002
 Madagascar  ? 14 2010
 Malawi 0 14 14 2008
 Mozambique  ? 15 2009
 Morocco 13 0 -13 2003
 Namibia 16 14 -2 2011
 Niger 16 14 -2 2008
 Nigeria 15 0 -15 2009
 Rwanda 16 0 2012
 Senegal 16 15 -1 2006
 Seychelles 15 0 2011
 Sierra Leone 15? 0 2006
 South Africa 15 0 2011 A child between the ages of 15 and 18 may only be employed if he or she has completed the ninth grade.[2]
 Sudan 0 14 14 2010
 Tanzania 13? 14 2005
 Togo 15 14 -1 2010
 Tunisia 16 0 2008
 Uganda  ? 0 2004
 Zambia 0 0 2002
 Zimbabwe 0 0 1995

Asia[edit]

# Country De jure Education/
Employment gap
Year Notes
School leaving age Employment age
 Afghanistan 0 15 15 2010
 Armenia  ? 14 2011
 Azerbaijan  ? 15 2005
 Bahrain 15 14 -1 2010
 Bangladesh 10 14 4 2008
 Brunei 0 14? 2003 Compulsory Education in Brunei from Primary Education to Secondary Education. Tertiary Education is encouraged.
 Burma 0 13 13 2011 De facto none
 Cambodia 0 15 15 2010
 China 15 16 1 2012 Compulsory education lasts 9 years. School leaving age is calculated under the assumption that pupils will enroll in school at age 6 or graduate high school at age 18.
 Georgia 14 16 2 2007
 India 14 14? 2003 The Government is making a law of compulsory education up to 14 years. Any person who wishes to continue his education can continue to work.
 Hong Kong 15 16 1 2012
 Indonesia 15 14 -1 2010? The school leaving age varies among provinces with most having a leaving age of 15, but a handful having a leaving age of 18.
 Iran 16 15 -1 2003?
 Iraq  ? 15 1996
 Israel 18 14 -4 2011? The age of employment has been lowered, the school leaving age raised.
 Japan 15 0 2009 The vast majority (>90%) of Japanese students complete senior secondary education due to social pressures, despite the leaving age.
 Jordan 16 0 2006
 Lebanon 12 13 1 2005
 Mongolia 17 14 -3 2009
 Moldova 16 15 -1 2008
   Nepal 0 14 14 2004
 North Korea 16 0 2008
 South Korea 15 0 2011 The vast majority of Korean students complete senior secondary education due to social pressures as well as self-satisfaction, despite the leaving age. Government assistance is available to families.
 Kuwait 15 14 -1 2012
 Malaysia 17 0 2006? Students must complete form 5.
 Maldives 0 14 14 2006
 Pakistan 10 14 4 2009? Although the minimum age for leaving school is 10 years or primary, which means a 7 year education, the minimum age of employment is considered to be 14. The 14 years old can do only light work and not hazardous employment.
 Philippines 16 18 2 2009? The legal employment age in the Philippines is 18, but it is also violated by some.
 Saudi Arabia 15 0 2010? A student may leave school after the age of 15 if permission of his/her father is given. Otherwise, the student must complete school until the age of 18. The employment age in a part-time job or during school holidays is 15.
 Singapore 16 15 -1 2010? Primary school is compulsory, followed by secondary school. 16 is the school leaving age; one may leave only after the release of Singaporean GCE 'O' Level results for admission to polytechnics, junior colleges, Institute of Technical Education, or work. 15 is the minimum employment age. Under-aged people are not allowed to be employed or they risk fines by the Ministry of Manpower.
 Sri Lanka 14 10 -4 2010
 Syria 15 0 2010
 Taiwan 18 0 2010?
 Tajikistan 16 14 -2 2009
 Thailand 15 0 2011 Students must complete secondary education up to Matthayom 3 and then have the choice of proceeding to upper secondary, vocational schools or dropping out, however due to social pressures most students finish their secondary education and proceed to Matthayom 6, matriculation or other forms of pre-university education.
 United Arab Emirates 18 21 3 2001
 Uzbekistan 18 16 -2 2012
 Vietnam 18 15 -3 2011? Junior High schools are now compulsory, but in some mountainous regions, many children leave schools earlier to help their parents. The government is trying to reduce that happening. Children must be at least 15 to be legally employed.
 Yemen  ? 14 2004

Europe[edit]

# Country De jure Education/
Employment gap
Year Notes
School leaving age Employment age
 Albania 14 16 2 2011
 Andorra 16 0 2001
 Austria 15 0 2011
 Belarus 15 14 -1 2010
 Belgium 15 (15) 0 2009? Full-time education is compulsory from the age of 6 to 15. From the person's 16th to their 18th birthday, they are obliged to pursue at least part-time education so they have a choice between full-time or part-time education.
 Bosnia and Herzegovina  ? 15 2011
 Bulgaria 16 0 2007
 Croatia 15 0 2003
 Cyprus 15 0 2011
 Czech Republic 15 0 2010
 Denmark 16 13 -3 2010
 England 17 (13) -4 2013[3] Full-time employment is illegal before the last Friday in June of Year Eleven even if the child is already 16.[4] Part-time employment may be undertaken from 14 and in certain cases, for example delivering newspapers, at 13. Rules coming into application in 2011 require all young people to continue with some kind of education or training until 18. Young people aged 16 or 17 may be employed if they enter apprenticeship.
 Estonia 15 0 2002
 Finland 16 15 -1 2010 Citizens must complete comprehensive school. The age of finishing it varies depending on the age of starting school (mostly 7) and years held back. Most graduate from comprehensive school at the age of 16. Pupils who have not finished comprehensive school by the age of 17 (which is marginal) may quit school. Post-secondary (tertiary) education is voluntary.
 France 16 0 2010 The statutory minimum school leaving age is 16. There are, however, a few specific cases where young people may enter employment before the age of 16, such as employment in the parents' company, sporadic work, or young people who have left school early taking up an apprenticeship at 15, to name a few.[5]
 Germany 18 (15) -3 2003 The statutory minimum school leaving age is essentially set at 18.[6] The federal Jugendarbeitsschutzgesetz (Youth Employment Protection Act) regulates the minimum employment age, which is set at 15.[7] However, from the person's 15th to their 18th birthday, they are obliged by state law to pursue at least part-time vocational secondary education, usually within the German dual education system.
 Greece 15 0 2011
 Hungary 18 16 -2 2005
 Iceland 16 0 2010
 Ireland 16 (14) -2 2000 The statutory minimum age is 16, except for those who have completed less than three years of secondary education, for whom it is 18.[8][9] The minimum working ages are: 14 during school holidays; 15 during term time; 16 for working up to 40 hours per week and 8 hours per day; 18 for working with no age-based restrictions.[8][10] Employees under 18 must be registered.[10] Exemptions may be specified by the Minister for Jobs; this has been done for close relatives.[10][11]
 Italy 16 0 2010
 Latvia 15 0 2005
 Liechtenstein 15 0 2005
 Lithuania 16 0 2011
 Luxembourg 15 0 1997
 Macedonia 18? 15 2009? Compulsory secondary education starts year 2008 (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia No. 49 from 18 April 2007).
 Malta 16 0 2012 Although the compulsory education ends at 16, an increasing number of children opt to further their studies while taking up part-time employment.
 Monaco 16 0 2012
 Montenegro 15 0 2010
 Netherlands 18 13 -5 2014 Education is compulsory from the age of 5 to 18. Secondary education is divided in several levels, with vmbo students typically graduating at age 16, havo students at 17 and vwo students at 18. After obtaining a havo or vwo diploma, the student is no longer obligated to go to school regardless of their age. A vmbo diploma does not end compulsory education.
 Netherlands Antilles 15 12 -3 2010?
 Norway 16 15 -1 2009
 Northern Ireland 16 2014[12]
 Poland 15 0 2002 After graduating from Gimnazjum (usually at the age of 15 or 16) one can leave school but has to continue education up to the age of 18. However, this requirement can be satisfied through "education through employment" without attending a school.
 Portugal 18 16 -2 2009
 Romania 18 15 -3 2008?
 Russia 15 0 2004
 San Marino 16 0 2003
 Scotland 16 (13) -3 2013[13] Compulsory education ends usually after the age of 16 which is generally after fourth year though for some is halfway through fifth year usually. However, many students stay on to fifth and/or sixth year, where qualifications are gained for entry to university. Restrictions apply to working hours of those 13 to 16 year (i.e. maximum hours, work permits, type of work) to ensure that employment fits round requirements of full-time education.
 Serbia 14 15 1 2007
 Slovakia 16 (14) -2 2006? From 14 to 17, only part-time jobs allowed.
Student can leave school after 10 years of school atendance (usually 16 years) or when first school year after his/her 16th birthday is finished (whatever comes first). Most students continue until maturita exam in last year of high school (student is usually 18 at that time).
 Slovenia 15 0 2012
 Spain 16 0 2009
 Sweden 16 0 2004
 Switzerland 15 0 2001
 Turkey 14 15 1 2011
 Ukraine 17 16 -1 2010
 Wales 16 (14) -2 2013[14] Full-time work starts at 16.

North America[edit]

# Country De jure Education/
Employment gap
Year Notes
School leaving age Employment age
 Barbados 16 16? 1997
 Belize 14 0 2004
 Canada 16 12 -4 2009? [15]
 Costa Rica  ? 15 2010
 Cuba  ? 17 2010
 Dominica 16 12 -4 2004?
 Dominican Republic 15 0 2007?
 Ecuador 15 0 2009
 El Salvador 14 0 2009
 Grenada 14 0 2009
 Guatemala  ? 0 2008
 Haiti  ? 15 2002
 Honduras 13 14 1 2006
 Jamaica 14 12 -2 2003
 Mexico 14 0 2005
 Nicaragua  ? 14 2010
 Panama 15 0 2011
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 16 0 1997
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 0 14? 2001
 Trinidad and Tobago 12 0 2004
 United States 16 14 -2 2010 The school leaving age varies from state to state with most having a leaving age of 16 or 17, but a handful having a leaving age of above that number. Students who complete a certain level of secondary education ("high school") may take a standardized test and be graduated from compulsory education, the General Equivalency Degree. Gifted and talented students are also generally permitted by several states to accelerate their education so as to obtain a diploma prior to attaining the leaving age. Young people may seek employment at 14 in many states but, in practice, most employers seek someone slightly older. However, it is common for those aged 14 (and even younger) to gain employment in agriculture.

Oceania[edit]

# Country De jure Education/
Employment gap
Year Notes
School leaving age Employment age
 Australia 16 14.75 -1.25 2011 School leaving age varies from state to state with most states finishing formal secondary education in the year ending february or march (approximately coincident with the beginning of the school year) that the student turns 18, with the school year end and graduation in December.[citation needed] It is common for students to have generally unskilled/low skilled part time employment until they finish their schooling.
 Fiji 0 12 12 1996
 Marshall Islands 14 18 4 2005
 F.S. Micronesia 14 0 -14 1996
 New Zealand 16  ? 2010 Those at least 15 may leave school with permission from the Ministry of Education.
 Papua New Guinea 0 0 2003
 Palau 17 0 -17 2000
 Solomon Islands 0 12 12 2002

South America[edit]

# Country De jure Education/
Employment gap
Year Notes
School leaving age Employment age
 Argentina 18 14 -4 2009
 Bolivia 16 14 -2 2009
 Brazil 16 (15) -1 2010 Schooling is mandatory for children 6-16 (years 1-9 in the new Brazilian school system). After that, there is no legal obligation to stay in school. Students who want to qualify for university admission must however complete three additional years (years 10-12) of secondary school (ensino médio), thus normally leaving school at age 17 or 18, depending on one's birthday date. The minimum age for legal work is 17; at 15, one is allowed to have an apprenticeship contract.
 Chile 18? 15 2005 Students finish their secondary education (Educación Media in Spanish) at age 18, and working is legal only if the underaged employee (age 17 or younger) is authorised by legal guardian or parents,
 Colombia 15 14 -1 2005
 Guyana 15 0 2003
 Paraguay 14 0 2009 Since the initiation of the Education Reform in 1993, basic education is for a period of nine years to the age of 15. According to the Constitution, compulsory education ends at 12.
 Peru 18 12? 2005 Employers are obliged to report regularly on the performance and attendance of students who they employ to help ensuring their education does not suffer because of their employment.
 Suriname 10? 14 2005
 Uruguay 14 15 1 2006
 Venezuela 14 0 2007

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Country Table - At What Age?...are school-children employed, married and taken to court". The Right to Education Project. Retrieved 2014-01-02. 
  2. ^ Mahery, Prinslean; Proudlock, Paula (April 2011). "Legal guide to age thresholds for children and young people" (5 ed.). Children's Institute, University of Cape Town. p. 12. Retrieved 8 October 2011. 
  3. ^ "School leaving age - GOV.UK". GOV.UK. Government Digital Service. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  4. ^ "Getting a full-time Job at 16". Connexions Direct. Retrieved 2009-01-11. 
  5. ^ Contribution to EIRO thematic feature on Youth and work - case of France
  6. ^ "School: leaving it too early" - by Andrew Leigh
  7. ^ Text of the German Youth Employment Protection Act in German, provided by the German Federal Ministry of Justice.
  8. ^ a b "Children and rights in Ireland". Citizens Information. Ireland: Citizens Information Board. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ a b c
  11. ^ "S.I. No. 2/1997 - Protection of Young Persons (Employment of Close Relatives) Regulations, 1997.". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "School leaving age - GOV.UK". GOV.UK. Government Digital Service. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  13. ^ "School leaving age - GOV.UK". GOV.UK. Government Digital Service. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  14. ^ "School leaving age - GOV.UK". GOV.UK. Government Digital Service. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-04-02. 
  15. ^ http://www.canadianlabour.ca/action-center/minimum-age-campaign/minimum-age-laws-canada

External links[edit]