How to prevent social exclusion and help young people find their own path in life?
Making the choice over further education after comprehensive school is a decision that influences the rest of a young person’s life. Dropping out of, or failing to complete secondary education is strongly associated with difficulties in entering employment, low income, and social exclusion as a result. That is why it is important for young people to get the necessary support, so that to they can choose a suitable place of further education for themselves.
My Path is a strategic research project of the Academy of Finland. The project will develop a My Path programme based on research, the purpose of which is to facilitate transitioning into secondary education. The programme will be developed by economists, psychologists, educational researchers, and an NGO that has long been working with youth from immigrant backgrounds.
The end of comprehensive school is the last chance of reaching a whole age group at once. The My Path project creates research-based practical tools for students, teachers and parents at comprehensive schools. They help young people with their education choices and simultaneously prevent social exclusion. Additionally, My Path offers provides policymakers with research information on preventing social exclusion. The programme’s tools are easy to use as part of the basic services in schools. The programme will be made into the next Finnish education export.
Involved in the My Path project are the VATT Institute for Economic Research, the Finnish Institute for Occupational Health (FIOH), the Jyväskylä University School of Business and Economics, Walter, and the Helsinki metropolitan area’s schools.
The project’s impact
For young people: The transition into secondary education has to be smooth in order to minimize the number of socially excluded youth. It is especially important that young people are able to build a suitable educational path for themselves. My Path provides young people with tools that help them make successful choices. The tools also reduce the risk of dropping out of school.
For teachers: At the centre of the new comprehensive school curriculum is growing into a person, so that the students can recognize their own passions and develop their own ambitions and self-confidence. The My Path project supports these goals and the work of teachers in attaining them.
For policymakers: The project also investigates the actual effects of earlier methods and social reforms aimed at preventing social exclusion. This gives policymakers a stronger basis for making researched-based policy. The My Path project shows what has worked before, and on what can a better future for Finland’s youth be built.
How will the project advance?
Fully mapping the mechanisms leading to social exclusion and the combined effects of them. At the same time, the effects of measures instituted in recent years, such as youth guarantee programmes and immigrant integration programmes, and their success in preventing social exclusion will be evaluated.
The My Path programme helping young people successfully choose their place of further education will be developed, based on research. The methods of the programme can be made use of in school environments everywhere, also internationally. Later on, the programme can be made into a new Finnish education export.
The project will last five years.