The pandemic causes school dropouts to jump by 30%

Pandemic causes school dropouts to jump 30%


The increase in school dropouts since the start of the pandemic is confirmed. The number of young people who have dropped out of school has increased by almost 30% over the past two years, although the situation has improved slightly in the last school year.

These figures come from an access to information request made to the 72 school service centers in the province. 

Of this number, 44 provided us with data on the number of young people who dropped out of high school within the past three years.

Despite the general trend, the data varies considerably from one service center to another.

However, this is not the official dropout rate calculated by the Ministry of Education, which does not is not yet available for the last two years.

“Important indicator”

However, these data remain “relevant” since they represent an “important indicator” of what has been happening in the school network since the start of the pandemic, says Égide Royer, psychologist and expert in school dropouts.

< p>“The gap between strong and weak students has increased since the start of the pandemic”, which could have pushed more fragile young people to drop out, he says.

< img class="aligncenter" src="/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/d98b03405bf8dfeaf8227649579a5438.jpg" alt="Pandemic causes school dropout to jump 30%" />

Photo courtesy Mélanie Marsolais, Struggle to drop out

This quantified portrait does not surprise Mélanie Marsolais, director general of the Regroupement of Quebec community organizations for the fight against dropping out. 

“There are waiting lists, the organizations are not able to to supply on demand,” she says.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the difficulties of young people, such as deprivation and mental health problems.”

Organizations note that the distress is still very great among young people, even among those who do not drop out, she adds. 

The needs are so great that several organizations have continued to offer services this summer, so as not to drop young people in critical situations.

With the labor shortage, it will also be “extremely difficult” to hang up these young people who have turned their backs at school, adds Ms. Marsolais. 

“There are more and more good reasons to go to work, the job market is ultra-attractive”, she underlines.

Worse for girls

Mélanie Marsolais is particularly concerned about dropping out among girls, who are less likely to turn to vocational training, which is more attractive to boys.

The repercussions of the pandemic will still be felt for several years, she adds: “Yes, we see that the numbers are starting to come down, but the young people who have just returned to secondary school have also suffered a lot of challenges. We will have to monitor the situation over a ten-year period.”


Rivière-du-Nord (Laurentides)

  • 2019-2020: 42
  • 2020-2021: 97< /strong>
  • 2021-2022: 121

Tributaries (Lanaudière)< /p>

  • 2019-2020: 99
  • 2020-2021: 125
  • 2021-2022: 181

Energy (Mauricie)

  • 2019-2020: 139 
  • 2020-2021: 146 < /li>
  • 2021-2022: 185


    < li dir="auto">2019-2020: 420
  • 2020-2021: 806
  • 2021-2022: 628

Marie-Victorin (Montérégie)

  • 2019-2020: 224 
  • 2020-2021: 235 
  • 2021-2022: 232

Capital (Quebec)

  • 2019-2020: 130
  • 2020-2021: 123
  • 2021-2022: 115

Number of dropouts during the year*

  • 2019-2020: 3325
  • 2020-2021: 4402 (+32%)< /li>
  • 2021-2022: 4280 (-3%)
  • Two-year increase: 29%

*These figures come from 44 school service centers and relate to young people who left school for the following reasons: abandonment, access to the labor market, unknown reason or personal reason. Removals and evictions are notably excluded from this data. However, this is not the official dropout rate established by the Ministry of Education, whose latest available data dates back to 2019-2020.

Fini les courses à for an isolated student

Private schools wishing to offer distance education to a student isolated at home due to COVID-19 will no longer be able to do so this year, a decision that displeases many parents.

With the end of the health emergency decreed on May 11, Quebec is restricting the use of online education at the start of the school year. 

From now on, only at-risk students will be exempt from school attendance for the entire year by a doctor or those whose whole group is in isolation will be able to follow their courses on the screen.

However, since the start of the pandemic, the students of the “vast majority” of private schools who had to isolate themselves at home, individually, could continue their education online while their comrades were seated in class, indicates David Bowles, president of the Federation of Private Educational Institutions.

Disgruntled parents

“It creates a reaction at the level of the parents and a certain pressure on our schools”, he says.

The positions are however quite divided on the side of the establishments. 

“There are some who find it normal that we do not give virtual teaching, as we do not do in case of gastro or flu, and there are others who would like to be able to continue” , adds Mr. Bowles.

The latter recalls that the duration of isolation has been reduced from ten to five days, in several cases, and that a student who has been in contact with a positive case no longer have to stay at home.

For his part, the founder of the site, who relayed the information on social networks, also notes that dissatisfaction is great in the ranks of parents. 

“It stirs a lot, parents don't understand. Distance education should be valued,” says Olivier Drouin.


A pilot project to offer 100% virtual education has yet been set in motion recently by the Ministry of Education, but it is reserved for students with special needs.

For their part, private schools are calling for expansions in order to be able to offer online courses to students who have to miss school for health reasons or for tournaments, says Mr. Bowles.

“It's something we would really like to see s 'broaden it further,' he says.

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