Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

This programme, targeted at minors aged 16 to 18 who have dropped out of school, was launched in 2012 by the Unis-Cité association. Unis-Cité, which has extensive experience in mobilising young people and various profiles on civic missions, has decided to create a programme that complies with these specifications, in partnership with the Ministry of National Education and the Civic Service Agency. The Booster programme connects the Unis-cité association, the Civic Service Agency (as funder), the national education system (in particular, the MLDS – The mission that prevent school drop-outs under the French National Education System), partner Comprehensive or Vocational schools, national education volunteers, external lecturers. The networks also involves other funders: the national private funders of Unis-cité (e.g. Coca-Cola Foundation, HSBC or the SUEZ Initiative Foundation), the European Social Fund, local funders (for example the regional youth and sports department), local private foundation.

Co-creation process

The programme helps the main beneficiaries of the project, young people, to move from those who are accompanied and helped, to the ones who help others, which contributes to their revalorization. The specificity of the civic service association Unis-cité is to offer a team-based civic service, and to focus on diversity within groups. Through the Booster programme, since 2012, school dropouts are being remobilised by a partnership designed by Unis-Cité, the MLDS, and the Civic Service Agency, thanks to an alternating civic service programme combining missions of general interest (provided by the Unis-cité association) carried out with young adults in civic service, and sessions of school upgrading in partner Comprehensive schools (provided by the public partner). In the Booster programme, civic service is also adapted to the type of audience, with concrete solidarity actions. The supervision is more individualized and reinforced.

Digital Transformation Process

This case study is not about a digital transformation process, but rather social innovation. It has led to pedagogical and methodological innovations.

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

From an economic perspective, dropping out generates significant costs for society, much higher than those corresponding to the action of public policies in this field. The costs associated with the drop-out of a young person, accumulated over time, have been estimated for France at 230,000 euros for each student who has dropped out. The Booster programme helps to reduce this cost. The year of civic service solves a number of problems of young dropouts such as health check, opening a bank account, renew their ID card) in addition to a possible return to training or employment. On the year 2018-2019, Unis-cité welcomed between 7500 and 8000 young volunteers. For the Unis-cité association, each year, the number of school dropouts fluctuates according to the number of territories that develop the Booster programme (20 territories for the 2018-2019 school year; 18 territories in 2017-2018). For 2018-19, the programme includes 400 young people, including 200 minors.

Challenges & Bottlenecks

The programme costs money and cannot be financed by private funds because civic service missions associated with private funds are evaluated by funders who request quantified targets. To develop the booster programme more broadly, new funds will have to be found. At the local level, some interesting projects cannot be carried out because they require too much funding. At the same time, national education has a different culture from the Unis-cité association, if the partners on both sides are not sufficiently involved, and do not discuss among themselves, the support to young minors can quickly become inefficient. Obstacles linked to changes in partners, particularly on the national education side, with differences in the priority of the successors, can deconstruct dynamics on this type of programme. There also barriers related to the lack of tenacity of young dropouts. Getting involved in 8 months of civic service can be very long for a young dropout. In addition, apart from civic service missions, young people must also prepare their professional project, adapt themselves to their working team, and for some of them, fight their school phobias. Adapting to an audience of young dropouts is also a challenge for the Unis-cité teams because coordinators must have the profile to carry out this mission. Other challenges related to the successful implementation of the project are related to the lack of flexibility in public education and the difficulty of finding partners for civic service missions.

Transferability & Replicability

This project can be transferred to other communities. The ambition of the Unis-cités association would be to try to deploy at least one Booster programme in each national education academy. As soon as Unis-cité has access to an academy, this partnership gives access to several territories.

Success Factors

The method developed by this network of actors seems to be a major innovation in the field of early school dropout. The innovation concerns first of all the reverse method compared to the traditional methods previously proposed by the national education system or by integration organisations (academic upgrading, internships in companies, training). In the context of civic service, it is not the young person who is helped but the young person who will help others, which leads to a boost in the young person’s self-confidence. The impact is twofold: they engage in society and as a result, they help themselves. The coordination of actors is essential for the success of the programme. This requires an understanding of both the educational environment and popular education. While the two actors were initially able to operate as two parallel entities, it quickly became clear that coordination is essential for the Booster programme to be optimal. The territorial differences played an important role for the success of the project. The local offices offer quite different solutions depending on the context. The respondents pointed out that there is a great difference between rural and urban areas. In general, there are few solutions for young minors who drop out in rural areas, while solutions are often more numerous in urban areas.

Lessons learned

In the Booster programme, young people have 2 days of courses. One might think that the teaching method adopted was not only based on purely academic learning, but also on experimentation (personalised rhythm and social exchanges). However, practice shows that young people who agree to enter the Booster programme do not want to be differentiated in learning methods. They feel able to learn “like others” even if they have experienced failures with this method in their personal life. Another unexpected result concerns the themes of civic service missions offered to young dropouts. It appears that sustainable development missions are not generally appreciated by young dropouts. The reason could be that young dropouts are looking for direct solidarity missions, face-to-face with the beneficiary, as in the case of the restos du cœur. The missions relating to sustainable development have a concrete dimension, but solidarity is indirect, the beneficiaries are potentially all people, and also concerns future generations. Dropouts may not have the necessary distance to realise this.