School-leaving age

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The school leaving age is the minimum age a person is legally allowed to cease attendance at an institute of 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 of 5 years old but (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
  Ages unsynchronised: School leaving age higher
0 denotes education is not compulsory. (13) denotes part-time employment available from 13
  Ages unsynchronised: Employment age higher
0 denotes no minimum employment age as children could be, in theory, employed from birth
  Ages synchronised
denotes no information available
  No information / No age set / Age varies by jurisdiction
? denotes the age set is unknown


Africa[edit]

Age gap Country De jure Year Notes
School leaving age Employment age
0  Algeria 19 2011
2  Angola 12 14 2010
 Benin ? 14 2005
 Botswana ? 15 2004
-1  Burkina Faso 16 15 2009 .
4  Burundi 12 16 2010
0  Cameroon 14 2001
-2  Cape Verde 16 14 2001
 Chad 15 ? 2007
 Comoros 14 ? 1998
0  Congo 16 2006
0  Egypt 14 2010
1  Eritrea 13 14 2007
 Ethiopia ? 2005
0  Gabon 16 2001
 Gambia ? 2000
-3  Ghana 15 12 2005
0  Guinea 16 2012
 Kenya ? 2006
0  Libya 15 2002
 Madagascar ? 14 2010
 Malawi ? 14 2008
 Mozambique ? 15 2009
 Morocco 13 ? 2003
-2  Namibia 16 14 2011
-2  Niger 16 14 2008
 Nigeria 15 ? 2009
0  Rwanda 16 2012
-1  Senegal 16 15 2006
0  Seychelles 15 2011
 Sierra Leone 15? ? 2006
-2  Somalia 17 15 2018
0  South Africa 15 2011 A child between the ages of 15 and 18 may only be employed if he or she has completed grade 9.[2]
 Sudan ? 14 2010 Includes South Sudan
 Tanzania 13? 14 2005
-1  Togo 15 14 2010
0  Tunisia 16 2008
 Uganda ? 2004
 Zambia ? 2002
 Zimbabwe ? 1995

Americas[edit]

Age gap Country De jure Year Notes
School leaving age Employment age
 Argentina 18 16[3] 2008
 Barbados 16 16? 1997
0  Belize 14 2004
-2  Bolivia 16 14 2009
-2  Brazil 17 15 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.
 Canada 16 in Quebec, 17 everywhere else 14-18, varies by province and industry 2014 [4]
-3  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,
-1  Colombia 15 14 2005
-20  Costa Rica 17-18 15 2010
0  Cuba 16 2010
-4  Dominica 16 12 2004?
0  Dominican Republic 18 2007?
0  Grenada 14 2009
0  Guyana 15 2003
 Haiti ? 15 2002
-2  Jamaica 14 12 2003
0  Mexico 15 2014
0  Paraguay 14 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.
2  Peru 16 18 2009 (Work is legal at 15,16 if it is authorised by legal guardian or parents)
0  Saint Kitts and Nevis 16 1997
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ? 14? 2001
 Suriname 10? 14 2005
0  Trinidad and Tobago 12 2004
 United States 16-19* 14-18* 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.[5] 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.
*Varies by State or Territory
1  Uruguay 14 15 2006
0  Venezuela 14 2007

Asia[edit]

Age gap Country De jure Year Notes
School leaving age Employment age
2  Afghanistan 13 15 2010
 Armenia ? 14 2011
 Azerbaijan ? 15 2005
-1  Bahrain 15 14 2010
4  Bangladesh 10 14 2008
-3  Brunei 17 14 2003 Compulsory Education in Brunei from Primary Education to Secondary Education. Tertiary Education is encouraged.
 Burma ? 13 2011 De facto none
 Cambodia ? 15 2010
1  China 15 16 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.
2  Georgia 14 16 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.
1  Hong Kong, China 18 19 2019
-2  Indonesia 15 13 2018 The school leaving age varies among provinces with most having a leaving age of 15, but a handful having a leaving age of 18.
-1  Iran 16 15 2003?
 Iraq ? 15 1996
-4  Israel 18 14 2011? The age of employment has been lowered, the school leaving age raised.
0  Japan 15 2009 The vast majority (>90%) of Japanese students complete senior secondary education due to social pressures, despite the leaving age.
0  Jordan 16 2006
1  Lebanon 12 13 2005
-3  Mongolia 17 14 2009
   Nepal ? 14 2004
0  North Korea 16 2008
0  South Korea 15 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.
-1  Kuwait 15 14 2012
-3  Malaysia 17 14 2006? Primary school is compulsory, followed by secondary school. 17 is the school leaving age; one may leave only after the release of Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia results for admission to the tertiary education. 14 is the minimum employment age. Under-aged people are not allowed to be employed or they risk fines by the Ministry of Human Resources.
 Maldives ? 14 2006
4  Pakistan 10 14 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.
-3  Philippines 18 15 2015 The implementation of the K-12 program (see Education in the Philippines) also signaled the raise of the school leaving age to 18.
0  Saudi Arabia 15 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.
-1  Singapore 16 15 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.
0  Sri Lanka 16 2014

For further information http://www.moe.gov.lk/sinhala/images/publications/Education_First_SL/Education_First_SL.pdf

0  Syria 15 2010
0  Taiwan 18 2010?
-2  Tajikistan 16 14 2009
0  Thailand 15 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.
3  United Arab Emirates 18 21 2001
-2  Uzbekistan 18 16 2012
-3  Vietnam 18 15 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]

Age gap Country De jure Year Notes
School leaving age Employment age
0  Andorra 16 2001
0  Austria 15 2011
-1  Belarus 15 14 2010
-3  Belgium 18 15 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
0  Bulgaria 16 2007
0  Croatia 15 2003
0  Cyprus 15 2011
0  Czech Republic 15 2010
-3  Denmark 16 13 2010
0  Estonia 15 2002
-1  Finland 16 15 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.
0  France 16 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.[6]
-3  Germany 18 (15) 2003 The statutory minimum school leaving age is essentially set at 18.[7] The federal Jugendarbeitsschutzgesetz (Youth Employment Protection Act) regulates the minimum employment age, which is set at 15.[8] 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. Some germans students leaving school at 17 and 6 months
0  Greece 15 2011
0  Hungary 16 2019 A student aged 15 can work during school holidays, with parental permission. Between 16 and 18 a minor can work during the schoolyear too, but only with parental permission. Minors can not work more than 40 hours a week, and they can work only between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., no night shifts.[9]
0  Iceland 16 2010
-2  Ireland 16 (14) 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.[10][11] 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.[10][12] Employees under 18 must be registered.[12] Exemptions may be specified by the Minister for Jobs; this has been done for close relatives.[12][13]
-2  Italy 18 16 2010 Full-time education is compulsory from the age of 6 to 16. From the person's 16th to their 18th birthday, they can either choose to continue full-time school or start an apprenticeship while still going to school for at least one week a month.
0  Latvia 15 2005
0  Liechtenstein 15 2005
0  Lithuania 16 2011
0  Luxembourg 18 1997
-3  Macedonia 18 15 2009? Compulsory secondary education starts year 2008 (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia No. 49 from 18 April 2007).
0  Malta 16 2012 Although the compulsory education ends at 16, an increasing number of children opt to further their studies while taking up part-time employment.
-1  Moldova 16 15 2008
0  Monaco 16 2012
0  Montenegro 15 2010
-5  Netherlands 18 13 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. Except those students which have done vmbo, they must have a mbo level 2 or higher diploma before quitting school. Also, all children between those ages, even if they're refugees or new, have to attend school.

Not attending school with-out proper reason for example; sickness or a doctors visit, is illegal and is seen as wagging which is seen as fraud and punishable by law. Until the age of 12 children cannot be punished by law, but as soon as your child or you turn 12 years of age or older, you can be held responsible for wagging. Punishments can be done as a fine, temporary jail time or a community service job done under supervision. Fines can be up to € 3 900 00. These punishments can be given to the student and/or his or her legal parent or guardian.

-3  Netherlands Antilles 15 12 2010?
-1  Norway 16 15 2009
 Poland 14-18* 15 2002 After graduating from an 8-year primary school (usually at the age of 14 or 15) one can leave school but is legally required to continue education up to the age of 18. However, this requirement can be satisfied through vocational training, without attending a school. This can be done as a part of employment, so technically the person leaves a school and works full-time.
-2  Portugal 18 16 2009
-1  Romania 16 15 2008?
0  Russia 15 2004
0  San Marino 16 2003
1  Serbia 14 15 2007
-2  Slovakia 16 (14) 2006? From 14 to 17, only part-time jobs allowed.
Student can leave school after 10 years of school attendance (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 19 at that time).
0  Slovenia 15 2012
0  Spain 16 2009
0  Sweden 16 2004
0   Switzerland 15 2001
-1  Ukraine 17 16 2010
-1  England 16 15 2015[14] Full-time employment is illegal before the last Friday in June of Year Eleven even if the child is already 16.[15] Part-time employment may be undertaken from 14 and in certain cases, for example delivering newspapers, at 13. Since 2011 all young people must continue with some kind of education or training until 18 which can include an apprenticeship.
-1  Northern Ireland 16 (15) 2014[16]
-3  Scotland 16 (13) 2013[17] Compulsory education usually ends after the age of 16 which is generally after fourth year, though this is halfway through fifth year for some. 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 aged 13 to 16 (i.e. maximum hours, work permits, type of work) to ensure that employment fits around requirements of full-time education.
-2  Wales 16 (14) 2013[18] Full-time work starts at 16.

Oceania[edit]

Age gap Country De jure Year Notes
School leaving age Employment age
 Australia 15 or 17 11 for supervised work, 13 for easy work ' 14.5 for most jobs 2011

The minimum ages from 2009 will be the following:
Northern Territory - 15;
ACT - 15;
South Australia - 17;
Queensland - 17;
Students must remain in school until they turn 16 years of age or complete Year 10, which ever comes first. From there they must be "learning or earning" which means they must be employed at least 25 hours a week, or be in full time education or be in a combination of both part time employment and part time education which adds up to at least 25 hours a week until they turn 17 or complete Year 12 or equivalent, which ever comes first.
Victoria - 17;
Western Australia - 15;
NSW - 17 (if they want to not do their HSC they need to be working at least 25 hours per week or at TAFE studying until they turn 17);
Tasmania - 17.

 Fiji ? 18 1996
4  Marshall Islands 14 18 2005
 Federated States of Micronesia 14 ? 1996
0  New Zealand 16 2010 Those at least 15 may leave school with permission from the Ministry of Education.
 Papua New Guinea ? 2003
 Palau 17 ? 2000
 Solomon Islands ? 12 2002

School retention by country[edit]

Country 2009
OECD[19]
1986
Michael Hill[20]
%-age in
full-time
education
(aged 15–19)
%-age in
full-time
education
(aged 17)
Minimum
leaving
age
required
 Australia 78 50 15
 Austria 84 NA NA
 Belgium 91 86 16
 Brazil 70 NA NA
 Canada 80 79 15/16
 Czech Republic 93 NA NA
 Denmark 89 75 16/17
 Estonia 89 NA NA
 Finland 90 91 17
 France 90 80 16
 Germany 93 100 16
 Greece 88 55 14.5
 Hungary 93 NA NA
 Iceland 88 41 15
 Ireland 83 NA NA
 Israel 69 NA NA
 Italy 84 46 14
 Japan 91 15
 Luxembourg 95 NA NA
 Mexico 61 NA NA
 Netherlands 90 87 16
 New Zealand 73 54 15
 Norway 81 76 16
OECD average 84 NA NA
 Poland 94 NA NA
 Portugal 85 NA NA
 Slovak Republic 91 NA NA
 Slovenia 94 NA NA
 Spain 80 53 14
 Sweden 88 86 16
  Switzerland 85 83 15/16
 Turkey 56 NA NA
 United Kingdom 78 49 16
 United States 85 89 17

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" (PDF) (5 ed.). Children's Institute, University of Cape Town. p. 12. Retrieved 8 October 2011.
  3. ^ https://www.mpd.gov.ar/index.php/marco-normativo/365-normativa-nacional/leyes/3244-ley-n-26-390-de-prohibicion-del-trabajo-infantil-y-proteccion-del-trabajo-adolescente
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-02-15. Retrieved 2014-02-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ Mikulecky, Marga (April 2013). "Compulsory School Age Requirements" (PDF). Education Commission of the States. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
  6. ^ Contribution to EIRO thematic feature on Youth and work - case of France Archived 2012-08-02 at Archive.today
  7. ^ "School: leaving it too early" - by Andrew Leigh Archived 2014-01-03 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Text of the German Youth Employment Protection Act in German, provided by the German Federal Ministry of Justice.
  9. ^ Diákmunkát vállalnál? Idén még többet kereshetsz vele April 18, 2019
  10. ^ a b "Children and rights in Ireland". Citizens Information. Ireland: Citizens Information Board. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  11. ^
  12. ^ a b c
  13. ^ "S.I. No. 2/1997 - Protection of Young Persons (Employment of Close Relatives) Regulations, 1997". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  14. ^ "School leaving age - GOV.UK". GOV.UK. Government Digital Service. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  15. ^ "Getting a full-time Job at 16". Connexions Direct. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  16. ^ "School leaving age - GOV.UK". GOV.UK. Government Digital Service. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  17. ^ "School leaving age - GOV.UK". GOV.UK. Government Digital Service. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  18. ^ "School leaving age - GOV.UK". GOV.UK. Government Digital Service. 2014-01-09. Retrieved 2014-04-02.
  19. ^ Skills beyond school. p. 343. OECD. 2011
  20. ^ Percentage in full-time education at 17 related to termination ages for compulsory education in various countries (1986) Social Policy: A comparative analysis by Michael Hill

External links[edit]