School drop out rate has risen with a very high number in recent years. Few numbers of students makes it to high school completion and even fewer successfully graduate in college levels. This high rate of school dropouts can be attributed to many factors in the society ranging from family backgrounds, peer pressure, racism, disabilities, emotional and behavioral factors to socio-economic problems. This rate is very alarming and its no longer a problem to only the victim and their family but a major social limitation that cannot be ignored by the larger community in the society. When young people make a decision to drop out of school, they get into the society without having educational skills, knowledge and values that are necessary in molding them into well equipped person who add value to the society.
Without this important basic skills, the high school drop out students experience many difficult situations and negative outcome and end up being underemployed, unemployed or incarcerated. This results in most of them becoming criminals and these impacts negatively in the society. It is in the light of these negative impacts to the high school drop-out, their families and the society that various stakeholders living in the society across nations must focus and give full attention to ensure that immediate course of action should be put in place to reduce the rising rate and facilitate completion of education to all students (Frankena, William and Burbules, Nicholas, 2000 P. 35- 37)
With this in mind, I was obliged to carry out an educational project that was aimed at preventing more high school drop outs and encouraging young people to keep learning to better their future lives. The project involved undertaking the role of an educator in Jessup correctional institution (JSI); a correctional facility in Maryland that has student inmates that get rehabilitation services aimed at educating them about the importance of completing school. I targeted this population since the student inmates were the most appropriate people to assist in the project since being the victims; they would give useful information relating to the subject.
Before engaging in the project, I had to put in place various materials and methodology that I followed in conducting the project. I collected review materials from published resources and educational abstract addressing the drop out rate topics such as the current drop out rates, the courses of drop out and the possible intervention and prevention methods and I used the information that I found useful to assist in my project. I used integrative study by involving the students to take part in enlightening me with more of this topic and finally i found computerized systems and web based research to yield more comprehensive resources to use in this project.
When I got into the class, I noted that it was filled with a capacity of 40 students. I introduced myself as a current student of Prince George community college and a correctional officer in their institution who have also worked with other social groups in the society. I explained to them that in the past years, I have gained vast work experience while working at Jessup correctional institution and other social work in the community and I have gained exceptional knowledge and skills from Prince George community college which had made me to be the most appropriate person to undertake the subject of drop-out prevention with them. After this formal introduction, the students of Jessup correctional institution become interested and they were willing to participate in my study. I asked them to give me the situations or the circumstances that they encountered and lead them to make the decision to discontinue learning. This was an important area to start with and to learn about since it was from learning the cause of the problem that one could be able to get the solution.
Most students raised similar issue on this topic. Some said that family instabilities were the major contribution towards dropping out of school. On this factor, some students attributed domestic disputes in their homes claiming that it affected their concentrating capacity and this was reflected in their deteriorating rate of performance with their school work. These failures discouraged them from school and they eventually felt like quitting.
Some students said that their parents went through hard financial problems and they were unable to pay their tuition fees and all this lead to their dropping out still on lack of finance, one particular lady said that she was forced by parents to sacrificed her education to pave way for his younger brother since the parent valued the education of a boy child more than the girl child education.. Other student attributed the drop out to peer pressure. They got into wrong companies and got involved with negative behaviors that could not go well with school work for instance, drug abuse and identity issues. A cause related to teenage pregnancy was also mentioned as a major cause of discontinuing school among ladies (Frankena, William and Burbules, Nicholas 2000. P. 62).
Other attributed the drop-out rates to emotional disturbances which was caused by some form of disabilities and these emotions deterred them from school. Few said that they experienced heavy racism in their school and they dropped out to escape the negative feelings they got out of it. A number of them gave their reason that they had to attend to a job that promised money which they needed more than the education. They stated that they studied for a while as they also worked but after sometime, they preferred to have a career instead of studying and ended up dropping out of school.
Finally and still on the causes of dropping out of school, odd and interesting topics were raised where a particular student said that he felt that education was work and he did not want to think hard. Another one said that he felt that he did not need school work to get a career since his parents were already rich and therefore there was no need to get tired.
Having known the various cause of high school drop out, I introduced a new subtopics to teach the students on the importance of education and the consequences that beheld them if the did not complete their learning. I had to go through this topic since continually explaining and emphasizing why it is important to study would discourage the thoughts of dropping out of school. I taught them that having good education placed a person in better lifestyle in their later lives. I explained that proper education helps one to be wise and enable them to make good life choices. I further explained to them that it is important to have a college degree since it will help in opening successful career options and due to the fact that it has broader spectrum in terms of knowledge, it enable them to have jobs of their choice and to switch to any job with more flexibility (Frankena, William and Burbules, Nicholas 2000. P. 126).
I gave out examples of people who had encountered difficulties in their career life and had lost focus in life after they chose to discontinue learning. I mentioned to them the major consequences that one encounter as school drop outs which included, limited job employment and the possibility of engaging in risky behaviours such as premature sex, substance use and alcoholism, violence, suicide, delinquency, homicides and other criminal activities.
Having taught them the benefits of proper education, I was convinced that the students were now able to contribute solutions that would help in reduction of school drop out. I therefore introduced the topic of learning and searching for various interventions and presentational methods that can be used to reduce school drop out. I encouraged the students to participate since I knew they were now better placed to not only help me get the right information for my study, but to also help them to use such intervention and prevention efforts to help them in their situation (Bourdain, Anthony 2000. P. 35).
Together with the students, we were able to come up with various useful preventions measures to reduce drop out rates. I talked of proposal to the government to force all schools to implement prevention programs such as counseling centers targeting students found to be at risk of dropping out. I advocated for the school to come up with strategic plans that integrate and promote partnership between all students to the teachers and to the wider communities. The programs should focus on early intervention to identify potential drop out and to ensure that people are enlightened about the importance of learning while they are still young and controllable. The project also pointed out that school should have fair and objective transitional discipline program that shows the student that dropping out of school cannot be compromised.
I also talked of proposing intense instruction and attention to potential drop outs which aimed at mentoring and tutoring the student, social and academic progress. We were able to learn that Effective strategies that helped in involving students in other non academics activities such as sports and drama would also reduce the drop out rates significantly (Christenson, Sinclair, Thurlow, & Evelo 1995, P. 79)
The students ideas were also very informative towards the prevention and reduction of school drop out rates, for instance, they advocated occasional meetings between teachers and students which feature them to talk about issues such as emotional disturbances, peer pressure, teen pregnancy and substance use. They proposed that schools should create conducive learning environment where teachers should show interests and concern to individual students, giving them personalized attention and care in their academics and social lives.
Those who had raised family struggle being the factor that caused them to alienate from school proposed that there should be social institutions in the society where affected students should get assistance that encourages them to keep studying in spite of all those challenges. They also asked the government to increase sponsorship programs to assist those at risk students who could not afford tuition fee (Thurlow., Christenson, Sinclair, Evelo, & Thornton 1995, P. 107).
The class projects came to a successful end and both the students and I were more enlightened about the topic of school drop-out. Carrying out this project by taking up the role of an educator to the students of Jessup correctional institution was an effective move since we mutually learnt a lot from each other. I impacted a lot of information from my research and they raised important issues that enabled me to get comprehensive understanding relating from their experiences. We were better placed to attend to the problems causing these drop outs and we came up with the above solutions that we would recommend to other students, to our teachers and to the communities across our society.
Bourdain, Anthony . Kitchen Confidential. New York: Bloomsbury (2000).
Christenson, S., Sinclair, M., Thurlow, M., & Evelo, DTip the balance: Policies & practices that influence school engagement for youth at high risk for dropping out. ABC Dropout of Special Education Programs (1995, December).
Evelo, D., Sinclair, M., Hurley, C., Christenson, S., & Thurlow, M. (1996, March). Keeping kids in school: Using Check & Connect for dropout prevention. Institute on Community Integration (UAP). The College of Education & Human Development: University of Minnesota.
Thurlow, M., Christenson, S., Sinclair, M., Evelo, D., & Thornton, H. (1995, December). Staying ABC Dropout Prevention and Intervention Series. Washington, DC: US Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, 15-16. Webb, DL, A M ( 2010).
Frankena, William and Burbules, Nicholas. Philosophy of Education. In Guthrie, James W.. Encyclopedia of Education, 2nd edition. New York, NY:Macmillan (2000)