In Quebec, the percentage of teenagers who complete high school within five years is alarmingly low. The Quebec Ministry of Education, Leisure and Sport recently revealed that 31% of Quebec youth do not have a high school diploma by the age of 20 – that’s one out of three. In some James Bay Cree communities where we work, only 8.6% of students graduate high school within 5 years.
Every student who does not finish secondary school is a tragedy. These non-graduates suffer throughout their lives without the basic skills that they need to qualify for employment, to pursue post-secondary education, and to thrive in our fast-paced, information-rich society. Sadly, inner city and First Nations schools often face the same vicious cycle: the communities that need leadership the most have the fewest role models and the lowest level of personal investment in the success of youth.
THE NEED TO INTELLECTUALLY ENGAGE YOUTH IN LEARNING
Along the same vein, and on a national scale, the Canadian Education Association recently published a study called “What did you do in school today,” which reveals that 63% of youth do not feel intellectually engaged in learning.
In light of these troubling trends, we must find innovative ways to keep youth “hooked on school:” through concrete projects that motivate them and engage them at both the social and intellectual levels.