Majority of Canadians say high school graduation should become a national priority, with dropout rates costing country billions

Survey also shows half of Canadians say dropout rates in low-income communities more problematic than imagined

TORONTO, June 25, 2013 /CNW/ - Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are graduating from high school this month, ready and able to take on the world. But celebrations are muted in many low-income communities where dropout rates remain at startling levels, an achievement gap that we cannot continue to ignore, says Pathways to Education Canada.

The not-for-profit organization, which works with youth in challenging situations to help them complete high school, commissioned a new survey that shows 53 per cent of Canadians see the country's dropout rates more problematic than imagined, while half of those polled also agree that youth in low-income communities do not have access to a quality education.

"On the surface, our education system is working just fine in ensuring most kids finish high school," says David Hughes, president and chief executive officer of Pathways to Education Canada. "But in reality we have more than 400,000 youth in marginalized communities who are not getting the tools and guidance they need and deserve, putting their futures at risk."

In a survey conducted by Vision Critical last month, 89 per cent of Canadians polled say that Canada should make high school graduation a national priority, with 74 per cent citing the lack of education as a root cause of poverty.

When asked for the key factors in ensuring a positive outcome to education:

  • 82 per cent cited parental guidance;
  • 67 per cent school engagement;
  • 53 per cent help with homework/tutoring;
  • 49 per cent financial means.

Youth in low-income communities typically lack several of those elements, sometimes all of them, for reasons that include parents working multiple jobs to make ends meet and a lack of financial resources needed to cover school-related costs, including the basics like transportation. New immigrants may face the added challenges of inadequate English skills and unfamiliarity with the school system, causing them to hesitate getting involved with their kids' schools and teachers.

Pathways works in 13 communities in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Manitoba, with programs that directly address the gaps young people there face. Support includes one-on-one mentoring and tutoring, financial supports and the assignment of Student Parent Support Workers, individuals who work directly with a young person, helping them to navigate school, family and community relationships while also holding them accountable for their performance.

"Walking through a school's doors is only the beginning. Accessing education requires a system of support that most kids can take for granted," says Hughes. "Our ultimate goal is to create a Graduation Nation where all kids get the opportunity to do their best and become contributing members of their communities and our country."

Pathways is reducing dropout rates in the communities served and helping to make high school completion a national priority. By 2016, Pathways to Education aims to serve more than 10,000 students and alumni across the country. To reach this goal, Pathways is relying on donations from corporate and individual donors as well as its growing volunteer base of over 1,200 who work tirelessly as tutors and mentors in Pathways programs across the country.

"I wouldn't be where I am today without Pathways," says Wares Fazelyar, graduate of the Pathways to Education program. "I'm now a first-year student at the University of Toronto, with big dreams and goals for the rest of my life. I don't know where I would have ended up without the support provided by the program."

Individuals and organizations can help give all Canadian students the opportunity to graduate through fundraising and making a direct donation to Pathways. Everyone can participate in building a Graduation Nation by simply learning more about the issue and spreading the word about Pathways and its goal to build a country where everyone has the opportunity to realize the benefits of education. For more information, visit

About Pathways to Education Canada -
Pathways to Education Canada is a charitable organization that helps youth in low-income communities graduate from high school and successfully transition into post-secondary education or training. Pathways addresses systemic barriers to education by providing leadership, expertise and a community-based program proven to lower dropout rates. Founded in 2001, Pathways operates in 13 communities across Canada, with programs in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Manitoba.

SOURCE: Pathways to Education Canada

For further information:

Sybil Eastman, Citizen Optimum, 416.306.6660,


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