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Canada's High School Dropout Rates Are Staggeringly High, According To Studies

In low-income communities, high school dropout rates can reach 50% or more.
Contributing Writer
Canada's High School Dropout Rates Are Staggeringly High, According To Studies

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Did you know that in Canada high school dropout rates average 5–14% and increase to as high as 50% or more in low-income communities, according to Pathways to Education? Each year, thousands of students all across Canada drop out of high school, according to the 2016 Canadian Census

Why? Youth in low-income communities face significant barriers to education that impact their chances of graduating from high school. Many don't have access to nutritious meals, financial stability, educational resources and support, or transportation to and from school. Others are unfamiliar with the English language and the Canadian education system, and the consequences can be severe.

Not only does leaving school before graduation limit a young person's potential for the rest of their life, but it also costs Canada billions in lost tax revenue, social assistance, and health care. Many Canadians are unaware that today, across Canada, there are more than 300,000 students facing significant barriers to high school graduation. One organization is trying to change this.

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Pathways to Education is on a mission to break the cycle of poverty through education.

Launching this September, their first national awareness campaign, Build Pathways, is aimed at raising awareness of the number of youth who are at risk of dropping out of high school, and the associated socio-economic impact. The organization is calling on all Canadians to learn more about the barriers faced by youth in low-income communities and to get involved by taking the High School Dropout Disparity Quiz to test how much they know about disparity in high school dropout rates across Canada. You can share your results with #buildpathways to raise awareness for students who are at risk of dropping out of high school.

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The national charitable organization behind the campaign, Pathways to Education, provides students from low-income communities with the resources and network of support needed to graduate from high school. To help build the foundation for a successful future, students receive a holistic combination of academic, financial, social, and one-on-one support to help them overcome barriers to education. They even help students plan for life after school—and their program works.

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Since 2001, Pathways to Education has consistently delivered proven results, increasing graduation rates in the communities that it serves by up to an average of 85%. But they know that there are thousands more students that could benefit from their program. In order to reach these young people and help them graduate from high school, they need more support.

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If you'd like to support our next generation of graduates, Pathways to Education accepts donations to support the young people in their program. They currently serve eight provinces and 20 communities across Canada, helping more than 6,000 students. To date, more than 7,000 Pathways alumni have graduated from high school. 

Every dollar invested in Pathways to Education creates a $24 social return on investment. Participation in their program also increases adult annual earnings by 19%, the likelihood of being employed by 14%, and lowers reliance on social-assistance by more than one-third. That's a lot of impact from just one dollar.

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Learn more about Pathways to Education by taking their High School Dropout Disparity Quiz, and by visiting