There is a growing number of young people giving up and dropping out of school in Australia.
Kids as young as eight are switching off during these fundamental school years and missing out on huge chunks of their education.
But are we getting any closer to understanding the problem?
There can be no doubt that in Anglo-Western countries like Australia, the UK, Canada and the US young people who are being failed by the system are no longer a small disaffected minority of students.
Research shows the education system fails one in four young people in Australia – a figure that has remained stuck for the past two decades or so. In some states this figure is as high as 50%.
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If we don’t act soon, then this group of young people may rapidly escalate.
A few years ago some American commentators referred to the problem in the US as the “silent epidemic”. And they were talking only about the tip of the iceberg — the young people who had given up and dropped out of school.
The even larger problem may lie in the vast number of young people who barely endure school, or who engage with it only episodically, if at all.
It is probably no exaggeration to say that we are in the throes of a social epidemic that is going on largely unnoticed and un-debated, and is silently endured by those most affected.
1. Current solutions too simplistic.
A common thread runs through the dominant explanations of the problem — which amount to “deficit” explanations.
That is to say, there must be something missing or wrong with the lives of these young people, their backgrounds, families, educational histories and communities that have to be remedied.