SOLIDIFYING PARTNERSHIPS TO REDUCE EARLY SCHOOL LEAVING
For immediate release
Montréal, November 5, 2015 – Together with Réseau réussite Montréal (Montreal Hooked on School), the Foundation of Greater Montréal organized a discussion panel to look at the challenges posed by early school leaving in the metropolitan region. The event was open to the public and took place at the FACE School, in downtown Montréal. Given the most recent statistics on the phenomenon, the panelists all agreed on the necessity of intervening early to keep kids in school; of working in partnerships so to promote a continuous dialogue and a greater sharing of best practices; of enhancing vocational training; and of maintaining and diversifying the sources of funding. This discussion panel was also an opportunity to forge collaborative links among researchers, educators and community organizers in Greater Montréal.
THE CURRENT SITUATION IN MONTRÉAL: KEEPING IMPROVEMENTS IN PERSPECTIVE
Isabelle Archambault, a professor and researcher in psychoeducation at the University of Montréal, emphasized that despite changes to the method of calculating the early school leaving rate, the situation in Montréal has improved. In Quebec, the rate is currently around 15–16 percent, compared to Montréal, where it varies between 17 and 25 percent. Boys are more likely than girls to leave school early: there is still one boy who drops out among every three students, especially in disadvantaged areas. Moreover, students from immigrant families (first and second generation) leave early almost as much as the students who do not have the same immigration background. In this regard, there is no notable difference between the two groups.
The representatives of the scholastic world cited a few examples to illustrate how statistics on early school leaving are changing over time. Dominic Blanchette, director of Calixa-Lavallée high school in Montréal-Nord, said that the better results at his school should be attributed to the fact that the Pointe-de-l’Île school board (CSPI) agreed to major investments in infrastructure and in extracurricular activities and sports. More vocational training courses also meant that the school could adapt better to the needs of their student body.
Violaine Cousineau, a school commissioner for CSDM Sud-Ouest (Saint-Henri–Petite Bourgogne–Pointe-Saint-Charles), asked that a nuanced view of the early school leaving rate be maintained, one that takes account of certain factors. For example, the loss of public sector students to private sector schools partly explains the high leaving percentages within the CSDM.
Lastly, Daphné Mailloux-Rousseau, executive director of the youth support centre L'Ancre des Jeunes, underlined the importance of financing, mobilization, advocacy and partnerships. To ensure that graduation rates increase, we need to maintain services instead of cutting them, and ensure the sharing of expertise and the diversification of funding sources.
REAL PROGRESS ACHIEVED, MANY CHALLENGES REMAINING!
There have already been a number of successes regarding early school leaving. For example, schools are forging more partnerships with community organizations and the private sector, and conducting research. At the same time, the school boards are seeking to expand vocational training within their network by creating new programs. Also, the work of the research community on the early school leaving is stimulating more interest among stakeholders in the field of education, and one sees a real desire to share the data collected.
That being said, many challenges remain. In this regard, Daphné Mailloux-Rousseau pleaded for better assessments of results and impacts after measures have been implemented. Dominic Blanchette spoke of the need for schools to work in tandem with parents. Violaine Cousineau believes it is important to redefine the transition stage for students moving from primary to secondary school. Isabelle Archambault called for more funding of participatory action research.
All were agreed that among the major steps to be taken, the following are essential: a system for early detection of potential leavers; a more targeted intervention approach (one that is better adapted to the reality of each person); stronger programs for vocational training; a better documentation of the legislative framework; and a culture of collaboration with the community and with partners.
BUILDING THE SPIRIT OF COLLABORATION
The four panelists also indicated their support for a better sharing of resources for concerted action among the organizations that strive to reduce early school leaving. Dominic Blanchette emphasized that community organizations are invaluable partners, that working together with them is vital. Violaine Cousineau described how the neighborhood committees created by the CSDM are a good example of effective cooperation. Isabelle Archambault noted the importance of working in partnerships and of securing ongoing funding to support initiatives that have proved their worth. Lastly, Daphné Mailloux-Rousseau called for concerted action to be aimed at initiatives that are already in place, and for it to be used to drive prioritized projects forward.
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Foundation of Greater Montréal
Foundation of Greater Montréal