Participation in school-centred extracurricular activities can be an effective factor in lowering the rate of early school leaving among at-risk students. Extracurricular activities are activities that students do outside the classroom, or they are joint activities during teaching time, including sports, arts, events aimed at community engagement or student clubs organized around diverse hobbies or academic subjects.
In addition to having a positive impact on the development of multiple skills and competences, when it comes to early school leaving, taking part in extracurricular activities increases the students’ commitment to and enjoyment of the institution and their feeling of belonging, in other words, the experience of being an active contributing member to their school community. Being involved in such activities helps overcome disengagement and isolation. For students who do not feel connected to their peers or teachers, extracurricular involvement can be a gateway to reconnect with them, and this has a positive overall effect. Moreover, the feeling they get when connecting to others and contributing to the community has a positive impact on students’ self-esteem.
However, research also points to the fact that students with lower socio-economic status are less likely to participate in optional extracurricular activities. It is thus highly important that relevant policies and institutional strategies provide the necessary support to make extracurricular activities accessible for every student. Ideally, we should remove all barriers to participation especially for those at high risk of early school leaving.