Each year, thousands of Canadians drop out of high school and this number is especially high for youth in low-income communities. Although the average high school dropout rate is low (7 to 13 per cent), this number skyrockets to up to 50 per cent in lower socioeconomic communities. With a little thought we can all make a difference however.
Pathways to Education is a charitable organization that works with students from low-income communities to help them graduate from high school. It advocates that there are four areas of wraparound support for the purpose of achieving a Graduation Nation. These components are:
1. One-on-One – Since each student’s goals and barriers to education differ, Pathways provides one-on-one support. Participants are assigned a Student/Parent Support Worker (SPSW), who stays with them throughout high school, and acts as an advocate, confidante, and mentor.
2. Social – Group and career mentoring can play an essential role in preparing students for life after high school. Mentoring shapes a student’s social and leadership skills by providing access to experiential learning opportunities that develop core competencies and enhance their social skills.
3. Academic –Afterschool academic support offers youth tutoring and post-secondary transitional information. It also provides a safe space for students to do homework, free of distractions.
4. Financial – It’s important to offer students both short- and long- term financial supports, which is a significant barrier for many youths. This includes transit fare or food vouchers to ease the burden of getting to school or staying focused while there, plus access to scholarships which may eventually cover costs associated with post-secondary education.
“Dropping out of high school affects everyone – individuals, communities, and Canada as a whole,” says Sue Gillespie, president and CEO of Pathways to Education Canada. “We know that offering each one-on-one, social, academic, and financial supports together in a wraparound program is an effective and important way to reduce dropout rates. By providing students with access to these supports, our organization is helping to make Canada, a Graduation Nation.”