Knowledge is Power. Equal Opportunity = Equal Access
The Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation's recent study, "Knowledge 2004: Access and Student Finance," found that the barriers to post-secondary education in Canada are not primarily financial: "youth from low-income backgrounds don't want to pursue postsecondary education simply because they don't know enough about it. This is referred to as cultural capital. Since "all equity issues are related to power,--who has it, how they use it, and who does not have it" the need to support programs that level the playing field for everyone are real (Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, 2000).
Post Secondary Pays. Higher Education = Higher Rewards.
A study, published by the Ontario Ministry of Education, reveals that 33.6% of individuals without a high school diploma require income assistance compared to only 6.7% of those who graduate (Davis, 2005). For the individual, "higher education is linked to success in the labour market through higher earnings and better career opportunities. For society, a highly skilled workforce is important for achieving desirable goals related to equality of opportunity, to social inclusion, and to promoting citizenship. For the economy, a skilled workforce fosters innovation and improves Canada's competitiveness in an ever-increasing global market" (Drolet, 2005). Despite the obvious individual, social and economic advantages of promoting post secondary education, Ontario has an alarming 32% dropout rate (Ministry of Education, 2005). The need for sponsors and communities to support, programs that promote the pursuit of post-secondary education is necessary.
Changing Times. Future Leadership = Global Literacy
Prior to September 11, 2002, how many students really understood what the Taliban regime was? How many students understood religions and cultures other than their own? (Martha Piper, 2002). A recent report published by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada argues that 9/11 was an emergency call for educators to produce new curriculum that promotes global literacy: "the ability to appreciate, and interact with, people of other cultures and backgrounds," to assess global events," and "to thrive in the international environment of the 21st century. dream has responded to this demand by developing a "field-school" option for youth with Ek Balam, Yucatan, Mexico.
Post Secondary Access. The Biggest Barrier = Parental Education
Surprisingly, research has proven that post-secondary "participation rates are more strongly associated with the parents' level of education than with their income" (Drolet, 2005; Finnie, 2003). Surveys conducted by dream, on Dunnville students, confirm national research. Over 30% of students with parents who did not attend college or university have no plans to attend themselves as compared with 11% of children whose parents attended university and 15% of students with college educated parents. For this reason, eligibility for the scholarship-based mentorship component of dream is open only to students with parents who have not attended university or have one year of college or less. Demand for the program from interested parents and youth who do not qualify only attest to the general need for dream. Hopefully, with more funding, dream can expand in future years to service all youth interested in the program.