High School Dropouts in Canada

This paper will discuss teenage dropouts in Canada, areas where the dropouts come from, gender of the students, age, and any other information that is viable reasons to quit school before graduation. This paper will also include several surveys and accurate findings done by Canadian schools and officials.

According to the Human Resources Development of Canada it is hard to keep up with the labor market with all the education and training required that without the completion of high school a decent job is hard to find. This is a competitive economy dominated by technology and advanced skills making it difficult for people to obtain a basic standard of living without an education.

Currently, 137,000 Canadian youth fail to complete their basic education. Males represent the greater proportion of 14% while female dropouts average 9.2%. Still, dropout rates have declined from 18 % in 1991 to 11.4 % in 1999.

“Without a solid learning foundation, subsequent education and skills development can be undermined and future employment success and quality of life can be limited”. Although most students perform well in school, there still remains a significant minority of high school students who drop out. The 2000 Programme for International Student Assessment placed Canadian 15 year-old students second in reading, sixth in math, and fifth in science; however, the 1994 International Adult Literacy Survey found that approximately 16-25 year olds had literacy skills under the generally accepted minimum level for further learning.

Canadian schools are very impressive with their educational opportunities. Students who stay in school will benefit from a level of literacy school and graduate sufficiency. Canada has been rated one of the top three countries for mathematics, reading achievement, and science. All young Canadian students are computer and Internet literate by grade school graduation. The graduates from high school who have a working knowledge of both official languages have doubled.

One fifth of young adults in Canada are school leavers instead of high school graduates and this is a cause for concern. About two-thirds of the school leavers have only completed school up to the tenth grade or less and are 17 years old or younger. Maria Spergel, author of “Youth Drop outs: Problems & Solutions” says that drop out patterns are detectable as early as elementary school.

There is not one homogenous group for students who choose to drop out of school. Many leavers do not come from high-risk backgrounds or are substance abusers . School leaving is the result of a number of contributing factors including gender, province, socio-economic background, school and work experience . Research indicates that there are many different factors; biological and environmental that contributes to school completion. Studies show that the path towards success begins at birth. Studies focus on academic skills and family characteristics. Dropouts are more likely to come from lower income and single parent homes. These same students receive lower grades and their parents provide little educational support. However the majority of dropouts come from two parent middle-income homes. Surprisingly, the top reason given by students for dropping out is school dissatisfaction.

Students who dropout may experience a feeling of not belonging at school or may have difficulties in relationship with peers and/or teachers. In fact, only one third of students who drop out actually discuss it with their principal or teacher in advance. Forty one percent of those students indicated that there was no attempt to resolve the problem by school officials. Dropping out seems to be more of a process than a decision. Dropping out has increased the number of health problems, delinquency, crime, substance abuse, and economic dependency.

In December 1991, Canada participated in a survey involving teenagers between the ages of 18 and 21 who had dropped out from school. 21.5% of all respondents—28.3% of men and 10.4% of women cited a preference for work over school as their most important reason for dropping out . About 20% identified boredom as their most important reason for dropping out. More than 30% of high school dropouts maintained an A or B average when they left school. The statistics show that students were most likely to drop out if they had dependents, were disabled, lived alone or with friends, had changed school a number of times, were married, separated or divorced, had parents or friends that considered high school unimportant, or who had fathers who had not completed high school. Statistics also show that young men were more likely to dropout than young women. Almost half of all high school dropouts involved in this study had returned to school by the age of 20.

The Canadian national average for high school student’s dropouts is 18%. 120,000 high school students leave school before they graduate. Leaving school is a disadvantage to those seeking meaningful employment. The school leavers who don’t return to school can expect long work hours and low-income levels as a result. Youth Canadians will need to be prepared with the skills to take advantage of the opportunities offered in the new economy. An education prepares a person for a career in the new economy.

Education has a serious impact on earnings. An American study comparing the incomes of university and high school graduated found that those with degrees made 54% (males) to 88% more (females). Canada is three times more likely to be unemployed than university graduates.

Canadian youths today are staying in school longer are completing their secondary school programs than in higher numbers than in the past. “This is likely due in part to increased emphasis on the importance of educational attendance and completion, the economic recession, and to a pattern of temporary departure—return to school—and eventual completion”.

“With the support and participation of communities, governments and employers, education would be strengthened as an important collective enterprise”. The question that needs to be asked is, how can students be discouraged from dropping out? What role can the community engage in to helping young people continue their education after they have dropped out?

Elementary schools are required to provide students with the “official curriculum” throughout their 6 years at elementary school. The purpose of elementary schools is to prepare children with a basic education to help them become sound citizens of the country. High school forces social interactions amongst teenagers making it possible for students to begin making their adult decisions. The better educated are doing much better than those with less schooling. By 2004, the demands for a University degree for new jobs created will be more that 70%, compared to the six percent of new jobs that will be held for those who haven’ t finished school. Six percent of new jobs will be held for those who have not finished school.

The Canadian government launched the Stay-in-School initiative in the early 1990’s encouraging young Canadians to finish school and acquire the skills needed for the labor force of the future . “Organizational reconstructing, financial constraints, and increasing skills requirements and recurrent retraining powered a search for new approaches to prepare youth to enter the labor market and to assume adult roles in the workplace, family, community, and country”. The Stay-in-School strategy was sought to reduce Canada’s dropout rates through collective responsibility and action, rather then using persecution and blame. The government created awareness to the problem by handing out packets contains viable information on the cons of dropping out, they encouraged people to develop and share ideas, and they generated an intervention. 84%of the students who participated in the dropout intervention completed their year, of those students less than 25% of them would not have graduated if the Stay-in- School intervention had not been in place. As a result to this program significant gains were made in public awareness and knowledge on the issue. If the Canadian schools and government stay focused to establish a foundation for student retention it would decrease the number of teenage dropouts even more than they have seen in the past. The children of today are the future of tomorrow; therefore it is imperative that teenagers finish school.


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