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school children were seated on the floor before a teacher at the front of the room, who was reading an illustrated storybook, during one of the scheduled classroom sessions.

Winnipeg Free Press: School Attendance and Systemic Barriers

April 16, 2024 — 

Opinion piece in The Winnipeg Free Press by Samir Hathout, incoming PhD student, and Colleen Dawson, M.Ed. student.

When Manitoba’s largest school division announced that 2,500 of its students were facing barriers in getting to school, it should cause all of us to take notice.

Unfortunately, the impulse for some has been to respond with individualized strategies. These strategies placed the spotlight on the student rather than on the system while enacting practices that are neither educationally sound nor research informed.

Not so long ago, the provincial government released “Safe and Caring Schools: A Policy Directive and Action Plan to Enhance Student Presence and Engagement.” It was accompanied by a costly ad campaign and an uninspiring slogan: “School. Keep Going.” Questions emerged about the people involved in drafting the action plan, including consultants, a private research group, and community members.

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