According to Montreal Hooked on School, in 2014 the dropout rate in Montréal was 18.1%, a clear improvement over 2009, when it was 24.6%. Furthermore, Montréal has exceeded the ministerial graduation target in recent years: the objective for 2020 was 77%, and in 2015, it was 78.1%. There is still a great deal of work to be done with youth for the situation to continue to improve, because every young person who drops out is the result of a failing in our society.
In the past few weeks, we have presented ways to intervene with young people, in particular by businesses creating intervention programs or by forming partnerships to support organizations that train young people.
This week, we present examples of simple, concrete actions taken by schools, with two testimonials from speakers who have met with youth at risk to help them persevere.
Meeting students: a moving, rewarding experience
Emmanuella Michel is president of the Sarah-Emmanuella Inc. PPD clinic and the Cognicorp+ line of educational games. Philanthropist and speaker at TEDx UQAM, she shared her education and career with grade 9 students from École Saint-Georges in the west of Montréal.
She had an incredible experience with the students. They took an active part in the presentation by sharing their own experiences and feelings and by asking interesting, moving questions: why doesn’t school teach students to think, develop self-esteem and like and accept themselves rather than concentrating on effort and grades?
The speaker asked students why the dropout rate was still so high in Montréal. There were many, complex answers, but the students pointed largely to pressure from parents and teachers, bullying at school, fear and stress as factors in dropping out of school.
For Emmanuella Michel, the experience was moving and rewarding. Her contribution no doubt helped the students in their journey to stay in school and develop self-confidence.
“These young people are the present and the future!”
Concrete action to help young people persevere
Gyslaine Samson Saulnier was director of a CLSC in Montréal for ten years when, at a colleague’s invitation, she had the opportunity to share her journey with young people who were wondering whether they should stay in or go back to school.
“I was guided by the desire to make a small contribution to making a difference in the lives of young people.”
For Gyslaine, three words guided her thinking in her presentations to young people: meaning, ability and recognition. Every year, she takes part in Hooked on School Days, and without fail the positive discussions and knowledge sharing confirm the importance of repeating this annual encounter to continue to participate and help students at risk.
This year, Hooked on School Days will take place February 12 to 16, 2018.
In the next blog post, we will present the Chamber’s Operation Back to School program.