QUEBEC CITY – Should high school dropouts be banned from working?
Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) MNAs were ridiculed at the National Assembly for suggesting to raise the mandatory age of staying in school to 18.
“I almost fell off my chair when I heard the proposal to forbid people from hiring high school dropouts,” said Alexandre Cloutier, Parti Québécois education critic.
The suggestion was met with laughter in the National Assembly, but the CAQ said it is serious.
The party is proposing children start school at the age four and stay in class either until they’re 18 or have earned their high school diploma.
The goal is to deter young people from leaving school to work by outlawing companies from hiring dropouts younger than 18-years-old.
“If you look at the dropout rate of Quebec, it’s about twice the rate of Ontario,” said CAQ leader François Legault.
“If they can’t buy tobacco or alcohol and they can’t vote, why should they have the right to drop out of school?” Legault asked during question period.
Premier Philippe Couillard had his own question: “What evidence do we have that forcing young people to sit at a desk is going to improve their chances of graduating?”
Canadian researchers have shown that raising the mandatory age to stay in school has often resulted in higher graduation rates.
“In general, there are some studies that suggest students who end up in schools longer than they would have because of the laws, end up earning more and also have better health,” explained University of Toronto professor Philip Oreopoulos.
For those who drop out of high school, Oreopoulos said it’s usually a decision they regret.
The CAQ proposal could be one way to give them another chance to consider staying in school.