The world is an unequal place. In Africa and Asia, high school students drop out because of poverty. Poverty is a key reason since it contributes to early child marriages, teen pregnancies, hunger, poor education facilities, and other commonly-cited causes of school dropout rates. One wonders then why children in the western world, where education is free, and schools have high-quality facilities and teachers, should drop out of school.
What is the school dropout rate?
According to the Institute of Education Sciences, “The status dropout rate represents the percentage of 16- through 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and have not earned a high school credential (either a diploma or an equivalency credential such as a General Educational Development [GED] certificate).”
Statistics don’t lie
Pbs.com paints this disconcerting picture of the American school dropout situation:
Despite significant progress over the past decade, graduation rates for African-American and Hispanic students remain very low in many states, and significant gaps persist. In an era of limited opportunities for those without high school diplomas to find jobs, one-third of African-American students and 30 percent of Hispanic students are still not graduating high school.
Although Whites, African-Americans, and Hispanics children drop out of school, the latter two are the most affected.
The reasons for increasing cases of dropouts
One of the key reasons for this sad state of affairs is the lack of role models. The US has a minimal number of African-Americans or Hispanics in positions of leadership or business. As such, there are no successful people for young people to look up to, especially those who have attained influential positions owing to education. Most role models are in sports where education is not a prerequisite for success.
No parental reinforcement
The other contributory factor for high rates of school dropout in these two population groups is lack of parental reinforcement. Parents of these children do not create academic spaces within their homes. Children are not given the freedom to make decisions of their own, and they are burdened with household chores when they should be studying.
Lack of support systems
Lastly, Hispanic and African-American children live in neighborhoods and communities devoid of support systems. These include neighborhood organizations, afterschool programs, and informal social networks. These are forums in which parents and families share information that aids their children in excelling in academic work, thus averting isolation and eventual dropping out of some students.