Decreasing school dropout in underprivileged neighbourhoods across France

December 2, 2019

Project details

In France, about 100,000 students drop out of secondary school every year, leaving the education system without a diploma. This problem particularly affects schools located in underprivileged areas. Decreasing school dropout rates in these areas could have a major impact on the personal and professional development of the students. Consequently, a family foundation mandated KOIS to assess the feasibility of a Social Impact Bond in this context. The SIB would serve to finance the scale-up of a programme decreasing school dropout rates. The project does so by integrating the practice of a musical instrument into schools’ curriculum.

School dropouts rates have a high human & societal costs

The gap between school leavers and the others starts to widen at a very early age. Indeed, 80% of the school dropouts were already facing learning difficulties in primary school. Eventually, they left primary education with an insufficient mastery of basic skills. However, primary education has a great impact on children’s development. For instance, a child’s reading ability is deeply linked to a their language repertoire. Studies have shown that at 3 years old, a child from a disadvantaged background knows no more than 500. On the other end, a child from a priviledged area already uses more than 1000.

In addition to causing education and employment issues later on, this discrepancy also comes at a high societal cost. In 2012, the total cost of a school dropout for the French society was around €230,000. Studies have also demonstrated that by investing 1€ in early childhood, we can avoid spending up to 8€ later on education, security, justice or social services. To achieve this, early identification of at-risk students is key.

Using music to bridge the gap

In 2014, the French Ministry of Education implemented a comprehensive programme to decrease school dropout rates. The programme covered three main components: prevention, support and remediation. However, only a few initiatives are focusing on prevention and early childhood (3 to 8 years old).

In this context, a family Foundation designed a unique programme aiming to decrease school dropout rates in underprivileged areas. Their programme does so by integrating the practice of a musical instrument into schools’ curriculum.

This four-year programme is based on the strong belief that brain connections created before the age of 8 years old are acquired for life. It aims to contribute to develop their cognitive (e.g. reading, concentration, memory, etc.) and non-cognitive skills (e.g. self-esteem, interpersonal relationships, perseverance, etc.). Eventually, the hope is to use these skills in order to increase their performance at school.

A Social Impact Bond to prevent school dropouts

In 2019, KOIS was mandated to assess the feasibility of launching a Social Impact Bond to finance the scale-up of this programme. The SIB would focus specifically on priority education schools in Val d’Oise, a French Department in Ile-de-France. The study demonstrated that a SIB could indeed serve to demonstrate the impact of this programme. The impact would be measured both on children’s cognitive and non-cognitive skills, as well as on their performance at school. The aim would be that the results allow the programme’s replication by the French Ministry of Education on a national scale. Through this significant scale-up, the foundation hopes to help decrease school dropout on a larger scale.

Potential Impact of a SIB

schools in Val d'Oise's priority education network served

students aged 4 to 8 years old served

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