What are are the biggest challenges for the education system? How are things changing to address them?
Open Book, Open Doors.
Before attending high school equivalency classes, Stella’s Circle participant Linda Richards was withdrawn and increasingly isolated. “I was very shy,” says Richards. “At times, I would isolate myself from everyone and just stay home.” Though Richards managed to find work at a home care agency, reading was a daily struggle. It was very difficult to fill out the paperwork and reports. I also found it, at times, hard to read prescription labels. After my job ended, I knew it was time to make a change.”
Improving the Education System
Dr. David Philpott Faculty of Education, Memorial University
Attendance and school dropouts are the best indicators of student well-being, of their sense of belonging, of their connection with their peers, of engagement, of hope for their own future. Over 1200 students drop out every year in this province (the equivalent of two average sized high schools), while another 4500 students miss more than 20% of class time annually. Those numbers are conservative as only two-thirds of attendance is recorded and the default setting assumes the child to be present. Students don’t drop out of school, they slide out because no one is watching. More than 2000 people a year are enrolled in Adult Basic Education in the province, costing about $10 million annually. No one chooses to go to ABE, they end up there because the K-12 system profoundly failed them.
For many children that failure happens due to a lack of support. Inclusive education has been interpreted as all children in the same environment all of the time, but it is clear that equal treatment is not working. An equitable approach that gives each child what they need is imperative – individualized supports for individualized needs, delivered in a variety of settings.
Another key concern is the alarming trends for children in care. In a province with a declining population we have an increasing number of children requiring the care of Child Protection Services. Over 1000 children are in care yet only 23% of them will graduate high school. Among homeless youth 77% had been under Child Protection Services. We spend more money on this group of youth than any other, yet their outcomes are abysmal.