From the outside, dropping out may seem like an unwise decision but it’s never that simple: many young Canadians are faced with prohibitive barriers that make graduating high school feel like an unattainable achievement. 

“Some young people drop out because they’re struggling with the graduation requirements, while others struggle with the school environment,” explains Minister of Education, Liz Sandals. “Some have community, family and other socio-economic related issues that act as barriers for them graduating high school.”

"Research studies have shown that high school dropouts are more likely to be unemployed, have higher incidents of illness and drug use, and tend to rely more on social assistance."

Hard facts

Research studies have shown that high school dropouts are more likely to be unemployed, have higher incidents of illness and drug use, and tend to rely more on social assistance. Failing to learn the fundamental literacy and numeracy skills that a high school education provides can have a devastating impact on a young person’s life.

“If a child doesn’t learn the basic foundational competencies at high school, they become, tomorrow, the adults who have limited options,” explains Aleksandra Popovic, Program Manager, Workplace and Workforce Skills Initiative at ABC Life Literacy Canada.

It’s never too late

Canada has fantastic community projects that work to educate young people, and adults, who may have dropped out of school without the skills necessary to succeed in adulthood. Dropping out of high school doesn’t need to be the end of education. It’s important for people to know that their community hasn’t given up on them and that they, therefore, shouldn’t give up on themselves.

“Believe in yourself,” says Popovic. “The opportunity is out there, it’s all about taking that first step. Don’t give up on yourself because it’s never too late.”

Joe Rosengarten
editorial@mediaplanet.com


How I made it

I began Grade 8 feeling very isolated and surrounded by negativity, both in school and out. My neighbourhood, Scarborough Village, was known for crime and had very few resources. Without encouragement and role models, I only wanted to get by in school.

That all changed when I met with the people at Pathways to Education. I was assigned a personal support worker to hold me accountable for my education and future. My performance – and happiness – really mattered.

"I knew I would always have someone to turn to, and I realized that I could have dreams and goals."

I got one-on-one support and mentoring, and found my way in school and life. I knew I would always have someone to turn to, and I realized that I could have dreams and goals. 

I could actually follow my passion – music – and education could help me to get there.

Now I'm enrolled in the Radio and Television Arts Program at Ryerson University, with a four-year scholarship from TD Bank Group, and working towards my dream of changing lives through music. 

I'm looking forward to giving back to my community and being a role model for other students that need it.