Tutoring, educational summer camps and greater access to professionals to help students in difficulty: these are among the initiatives deployed so that the number of students dropping out (most of who are boys) doesn’t spike during the pandemic.
Here, then, is quick look at some of the programs that are hopefully making a difference.
By Martine Letarte
The education ministry is putting the pedal to the metal when it comes to hiring professional resources like remedial tutors, psychologists, psycho-educators and speech therapists. After having added the equivalent of 1,015 posts in 2020, the education ministry announced last May an additional $19 million to hire specialists, free up personnel for training, and purchase materials. The government also invested $4.7 million to hire support workers to improve the links between schools and families whose children show signs of vulnerability.
La Grappe educative Montcalm, a program created by the Carrefour jeunesse-emploi de Montcalm (a youth employment service) to attack the crying need to do something about their area’s sky-high dropout rate, is deploying professional resources to support youth in their area. For example, last spring the Semaine de dépistage précoce (early screening week) allowed 97 children between the ages of 3 and 5 to be evaluated by a special ed specialist, an occupational therapist or a psycho-educator. Categorized according to their needs, they could then obtain services so that they can be well prepared when they start kindergarten or primary school.
But often, intervening just with the young person isn’t enough: you have to reach their whole family.
That’s what La Grappe educative Montcalm are also doing. They’ve hired a nurse to help vulnerable families with children between 3 and 6 years of age to ensure that they’re sufficiently intellectually stimulated. “These families are followed for five years, with about two visits per month, but it varies according to their needs,” says Geneviève Rinfret, director-general of the Carrefour jeunesse-emploi de Montcalm, a youth employment centre in a disadvantaged area of the Lanaudière region. Her employment centre created La Grappe.
The nurse takes a look at the family environment as well as the child’s whole health profile, creating a bond of trust with the family.
If the nurse sees a problem that would require the involvement of another professional such as a psycho-educator, that nurse can accompany the family and direct them towards this resource. The nurse can also suggest that the child join a daycare facility, to stimulate them further.
“In our very vulnerable milieu, you have to do more than just act in the schools,” says Rinfret. “The problems go deeper. The intervention has to encompass the holistic health of the child and their family. And in the long run, that can raise the graduation rate.”