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Government Decision on Raising School Leaving Age

In 2016, the Indonesian government increased its spending on healthcare and education and considered raising the school leaving age. The government also planned to increase taxation. Such a move might conflict with its aim of reducing unemployment at a time when a number of countries were at risk of entering a recession

Discuss whether or not a government should raise the school leaving age. [8]


Economic Growth and Development

[CIE O level November 2018]



Step ➊ : Define ‘the school leaving age’ in the introduction.

It is often argued that the school leaving age should be raised. The school leaving age is the minimum age a person is legally allowed to cease attendance at an institute of compulsory secondary education. There are several points to be considered before deciding whether a government should raise the school leaving age.

Step ➋ : Discuss how raising the leaving school age may have several benefits.

Raising the leaving school age may have several benefits.

➤ 2.1 More time spent in education will enable workers to increase their skills and qualifications.

People looking for work will find jobs more easily as they will have better education and skills. Thus, unemployment will fall and this will lead to higher living standards.

➤ 2.2 Firms will be able to raise productivity with higher-skilled workers.

Raising the school leaving age will make the workforce better skilled and more productive. Cost of production may fall and the quality of the firm’s products may be improved. This will make the firms more internationally competitive. Net exports will rise. People will be more willing to buy home-produced goods leading to a fall in imports. Overall, this may improve the current account position of the country.

➤ 2.3 Raising the school leaving age will help to tackle youth unemployment.

For example, in Indonesia, average unemployment rates are 5.6 % (2017), but youth unemployment amongst under 25s is running at 15.4%(2017). Raising the school leaving age will hopefully mean more young people enter the job market with better training qualifications.

Step ➌ : Explain the drawbacks of raising the school leaving age.

Raising the school leaving age may have several drawbacks.

➤ 3.1 The government will have to increase spending and there may an opportunity cost involved.

For example, money spent on education could have been used for improving healthcare and infrastructure. Tax rates may also have to be increased in order to finance this expenditure. In the short-run, the labour force will be reduced. There will be lower output and this may lead to inflation.

➤ 3.2 The success of this policy depends on the quality and choice of education and training schemes.

For example, if there is little available choice for vocational training, non-academic students may find themselves forced to do academic subjects against their will. This could have negative consequences for others who are more interested in learning. Pupils who don’t want to be in education can make school disruptive and cause problems for teachers and other pupils.

➤ 3.3 Certain families may not be able to afford the extra years schooling and would prefer that their children work in order to increase the family income.

Step ➍ : Conclude

To conclude, raising the school leaving age will be more beneficial in the long run than in the short run. In the short run, the government will have to increase it's spending and the labour force will be reduced. In the long run, the economy will benefit from reduced unemployment and economic growth. The government should thus increase the school leaving age.






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