Dramatic improvements in school attendance rates over the last 25 years including considerable declines in drop-out rates show that more young Canadians are staying in school . Nevertheless, drop out rates are still relatively high in some pockets of the Canadian population, including youth that either come from mixed families or single-parent households, carry responsibilities for paid employment during the school year, or lack a parent with higher education . Young mothers are less likely to complete high school and more likely to face unemployment, low wages, and poverty . Young women who become pregnant report significant difficulties in balancing their own education with their responsibilities as mothers, in addition to reporting lack of social support and discriminating attitudes from some schools . The children of young mothers have been found to do less well in school as well, signalling long-lasting inter-generational effects .
The educational attainment of Aboriginal women is improving, but still lags significantly behind that for women in the general population. However, among Aboriginal peoples, women are more likely than Aboriginal men to attain higher levels of education. Given that a large proportion of Canada’s Aboriginal peoples are under the age of 14 years and are expected to join the labour market over the next 20 years, there is some cause for concern regarding the staggering rates of low educational attainment and youth drop-out.
Twenty-five percent of Aboriginal women cited pregnancy or the need to take care of children as the reason why they left school . Aboriginal women’s education is influenced by the legacy of colonization and residential schooling and a long history of conflict between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal cultures, which has led to distrust and resentment of a system primarily run by non-Aboriginal, middle-class people .