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Boys do well, girls do better


The proportion of pupils who fail to complete high school has fallen by a third in the past decade.

Both boys and girls are doing better - the percentage getting their high-school diploma has risen from 82 to 88 per cent - but girls are doing much better.

The figures were published by Youth in Transition, which drew on a study of 22,000 young Candians aged 18 to 20.

Nationwide, the dropout rate for girls fell from 14 to 9 per cent, between 1991 and 1999, while for boys it fell from 22 to 15 per cent.

The report found that girls were relatively immune to the two most important factors in dropping out: weak reading and writing, and the so-called "generational effect".

"There is a clear link between reading and writing problems and dropping out. This can clearly be seen in the case of the boys who have language difficulties in the primary grades and who are left back and then fail to graduate," said Dr Robert Maheau, director of statistics at Quebec's ministry of education.

Dr Paul Cappon, executive director of the Council of Ministers of Education Canada, said boys were also more likely to drop out in areas where there is a tradition of leaving school to go to work. These would include poor areas or ones that rely on "natural resource"industries such as fishing and mining.

In the province of British Columbia the overall drop-out rate fell from 16 to 12.9 per cent, but while the girls' rate fell from 14 to 8.9 per cent, the boys' stayed at 17 per cent.

This may be related to the fact that about half of jobs in British Columbia, though it is a wealthy province, are based in "resource" industries.

The study found that drop-outs cited many causes for leaving school, including family responsibilities, pregnancy, low grades and disengagement from school.

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