The Quebec Ministry of Education is proposing to allow four-year-old children from underprivileged families to attend elementary school full-time as part of a campaign to curb the province’s disturbingly high dropout rate.
More than one in three students in the province – 36 per cent – leave school without graduating. And studies showed that most of them come from poor families. For instance, a study conducted in 2008 by the Montreal Health and Social Services Agency concluded that 35 per cent of 5-year-old kindergarten students on the Island of Montreal were from needy families, showed signs of neglect and had learning disabilities that would likely impede their academic progress.
[Lebanon] Language Barriers Prevent Syrian Children from Attending School
“I want them to go to school, but it’s so far away. I can’t afford the cost of transport. It’s also difficult because here they speak French or English at school. My children won’t understand anything”, explained Dima’s sister.
A critical problem facing Syrian children in Lebanon is that the education system uses French or English as the language of instruction, with Arabic only reserved for language courses and sometimes history lessons. Conversely, in Syria the education system is entirely in Arabic.
A rapid needs assessment carried out in late 2012 by the UN children’s fund in Lebanon (UNICEF) and Save the Children also cited language barriers as the principal obstacle for Syrians in Lebanon. The report found that most Syrians would like their children to learn either French or English as they see it as a “chance for upward mobility”.
In addition, the Lebanese education system is unable to cope with the influx of Syrians across the border. More than 160,000 Syrians are officially registered with the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) in Lebanon and a further 71,358 are awaiting registration. This number is increasing rapidly as up to 3,000 Syrians are crossing the borders daily to Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.