School leaving age

School leaving age
World map to show school leaving age

The school leaving age (also known in North America as dropout age or minimum dropout age) states the minimum age person is legally allowed to leave compulsory education (usually of the secondary kind). 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.

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.[1]


Leaving age by country

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.


Color legend Ages legend
  School leaving age higher
0 denotes education is not compulsory
  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


# Country De jure Education/
Employment gap
School leaving age Employment age
 Algeria 16 0
 Benin  ? 14
 Burkina Faso 16 0 -16
 Burundi 12 16 4
 Cameroon 0 14 14
 Cape Verde 16 14 -2
 Chad 15 0 -15
 Comoros 14 0 -14
 Egypt 14 0
 Eritrea 0 14 14
 Ethiopia 0 14 14
 Gabon 16 0
 Ghana 15 0 -15
 Guinea 16 0
 Kenya 0 1 1
 Libya 15 0
 Morocco 13 15 2
 Niger 16 14 -2
 Rwanda 12 0 -12
 Seychelles 15 0
 Sierra Leone 15 0 -15
 South Africa 15 0 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 16 16
 Tanzania 13 0 -13
 Togo 15 14 -1
 Tunisia 16 0
 Zambia 0 14 14


# Country De jure Education/
Employment gap
School leaving age Employment age
 Bangladesh 10 0 -10
 Bahrain 0 15 15
 Brunei 0 14 14 Compulsory Education in Brunei from Primary Education to Secondary Education. Tertiary Education is encouraged.
 China 15 16 1 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.
 India 14 18 4 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
 Indonesia 15 14 -1 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
 Iraq  ? 15
 Israel 18 14 -4 The age of employment has been lowered, the school leaving age raised.
 Japan 15 0 The vast majority (>90%) of Japanese students complete senior secondary education due to social pressures, despite the leaving age.
 Jordan 17 16 -1
 North Korea 15 0
 South Korea 15 0 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 14 0
 Malaysia 16 0 Students must complete secondary education up to Form 3 and then have the choice of proceeding to upper secondary, vocasional schools or dropping out, however due to social pressures most students finish their secondary education and proceed to sixth form, matriculation or other forms of pre-university education.
 Maldives 0 16 16
 Pakistan 10 14 4 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 The legal employment age in the Philippines is 18, but it is also violated by some.
 Saudi Arabia 15 18 3 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 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
 Syria 12 0
 Taiwan 15 0
 Thailand 15 13 -2 Employment age: Most occupation at 15, some occupations 13
 United Arab Emirates 11 15 4
 Vietnam 18 15 -3 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.


# Country De jure Education/
Employment gap
School leaving age Employment age
 Andorra 16 0
 Austria 15 0
 Belarus 15 14 -1
 Belgium 18 0 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.
 Bulgaria 16 0
 Cyprus 15 0
 Czech Republic 15 0
 Denmark 16 15 -1
 England 16 now 18 14 Full-time employment is illegal before the last Friday in June of Year Eleven even if the child is already 16.[3] 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 18 3
 Finland varies 14 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. Secondary education is voluntary.
 France 16 0 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.[4]
 Germany 18 15 -3 The statutory minimum school leaving age is essentially set at 18.[5] The federal Jugendarbeitsschutzgesetz (Youth Employment Protection Act) regulates the minimum employment age, which is set at 15.[6] 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 16 0
 Hungary 18 16 -2
 Iceland 15 0
 Ireland 16 15 -1 16 is the minimum school leaving age, though students must complete three years of basic secondary education (ie. the Junior Certificate) regardless of age. Young people may be employed in a part-time job during school holidays at age 14, part-time year-round at age 15 and may be employed full-time at age 18. Persons under the age of 18 are subject to restrictions on their work. People under 16 must have written parental approval before they take a job.
 Italy 16 0
 Latvia 15 0
 Liechtenstein 15 0
 Lithuania 16 0
 Luxembourg 15 0
 Macedonia 18 15 -3 Compulsory secondary education starts year 2008 (Official Gazette of the Republic of Macedonia No. 49 from 18.04.2007)
 Malta 16 0 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
 Netherlands 18 16 -2 Full-time education is compulsory from the age of 5 to 16. 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.
 Netherlands Antilles 15 12 -3
 Norway 16 15 -1
 Poland 18 15 -3
 Portugal 16 0
 Romania 16 0
 Russia 15 14 -1
 San Marino 16 0
 Scotland 16 13 -3 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.
 Slovakia 16 14 -2 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
 Spain 16 0
 Sweden 16 0
 Switzerland 15 0
 Turkey 14 12 -2
 Ukraine 17 16 -1

North America and Caribbean

# Country De jure Education/
Employment gap
School leaving age Employment age
 Barbados 16 0
 Belize 14 12 -2
 Canada 16 14 -2 The provinces of Ontario and New Brunswick have their school leaving age at the age of 18 years.
 Dominica 16 12 -4
 Dominican Republic 15 0
 Grenada 14 0
 Haiti  ? 15
 Honduras 13 14 1
 Jamaica 16 18 2
 Mexico 15 14 -1
 Saint Kitts and Nevis 16 0
 Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 0 14 14
 Trinidad and Tobago 12 0
 United States 16 15 -1 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.

South America

# Country De jure Education/
Employment gap
School leaving age Employment age
 Argentina 15 14 -1
 Bolivia 15  ?
 Brazil 15 9 -6 Schooling is mandatory for children 6-14 (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 16; at 14, one is allowed to have an apprenticeship contract.
 Chile 18 17 -1 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
 Paraguay 15 0 -15 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 16 12 -4 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 4
 Venezuela 10 14 4

See also


External links

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