In a world where outsourcing has become a greater trend for companies and where adults who have, up until now, not seen any need to get their high school diplomas, adult education has become a forgotten gift for many, until they make that decision to return to school, that is. A Google search for “high school education adult” resulted in 130 million hits, with the first page of those offering a multitude of choices for those adults who have wondered about the feasibility of returning to high school. The decision to return to school, at any level, is a difficult one, and for those adults who left high school the first time for any number of reasons, the thought of returning to high school after what could be years away may prove particularly daunting.
According to Too Many Left Behind:Canada’s Adult Education and Training System by authors Karen Meyers and Patrice de Broucker, 42 percent of Canadians between ages 16 to 65 lack the basic literacy skills required to successfully navigate and work in the current societal workplace. That level has not changed over the last decade, according to the authors, and that is a frightening consideration. A lack of basic literacy skills could make the difference between life and death, and this has been frequently illustrated over the last several years by a number of agencies.
Also, there are approximately 200,000 young adults who have not achieved their high school diploma, according to this 2006 report from the Canadian Policy Research Networks. While there are a number of adult-oriented high schools and these are designed to offer adults education on their terms, younger adults are looking at survival first. There are a range of reasons why young adults leave school. These could include teen pregnancy, being bullied, or needing to work to help their families out. Regardless of the reason, there is some trepidation when serious consideration is given to returning to school, and certainly, loss of income can be a significant one.
However, as someone who has been directly involved in teaching adults for the last several years, I have seen firsthand the benefits that come to these adults who are bold enough to make that first step and return to school. There are many who believe, deep down, that a return to high school means a return to the same sorts of things – bullying, drugs, unexpected pregnancy – that may have driven them from school in the first place. There are schools throughout Canada that are specifically dedicated to helping adults attain their high school diploma, and as a teacher, I have seen the friendships formed and the proud smiles at each and every graduation ceremony.
You see, adults understand how very vital a high school diploma is. They have learned, through experience, that there are so many doors that open just by having that piece of paper that says you have gone through the same process and earned the credits as every other high school student on the planet, or at least in North America. They are the ones who have balanced sick kids, jobs, relationships, and homework just to get the job done. They know that they cannot very well tell their own children that they need their education and they need to graduate high school at the very least if they have not done it themselves. These are adults who understand what a gift education is, and once they have that diploma in hand, they know they are truly on a better path for success.
Opinion by Christina St-Jean