Europe: One in three children in Belgium is discontinuing school. The problem has worsened in the last few years while profiles are diversifying.
The founder of Out of the box, an association that supports teenagers who drop out of school, Diane Hennebert, mentioned in the statement, “The age of young people who are dropping out has fallen sharply. Ten years ago, we were talking mostly about boys between the ages of 16 and 18. Today, there are also many girls who no longer want to go to school, and it starts at 13 or 14 years old.”
The association, supported by private sponsorship, occupies an opulent house in Etterbeek, in the Brussels Region. The young people prepare and eat breakfast and dinner together. Moreover, in the dining room next to the classrooms, a library sharpens the curiosity of the teenagers who came here to revive their interest in learning and regain confidence.
Hennebert highlighted, “Out of the Box is a workshop of urban and creative pedagogy rather than a school in the traditional sense of the word.” He stated that there are no formal lessons, although workshops in languages, arts, dance, drama, and philosophy are available. There are no quantitative assessments, only reciprocal assessments between pupils and adult supervisors.
Hennebert says, “The young people who are here hate school. But that’s not to say they don’t want to learn. Our role is also to dissociate this fear or refusal of the school system from the pleasure of learning. I don’t see why you would learn less well with a cup of tea in front of you.”
The twenty or so young people who have gathered at the centre have one thing in common: a gradual but deep distrust of the traditional educational system. However, each person has a unique motive for leaving. Elisabeth withdrew out due to “health issues.” Mounji, on the other hand, “has always struggled with authority.”
Bullying is another issue that brings young people to Out of the Box. Every second young kid at the centre has a story of being bullied by their previous classmates. Laly, a 16-year-old, said, “I tried to go back to school after two months. Then it started again. So, I dropped out again.” Laly has been out of school for the past three years.