Education Aspirations and Barriers to Achievement for Street‐Involved Youth in Victoria, Canada

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2803

Article | Open Access | Ahead of Print | Last Modified: 7 June 2022

Education Aspirations and Barriers to Achievement for Street‐Involved Youth in Victoria, Canada


  • Laura Vetrone School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, Canada / Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Cecilia Benoit Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, University of Victoria, Canada / Department of Sociology, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Doug Magnuson School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, Canada / Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Sven Mikael Jansson Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, University of Victoria, Canada / Department of Sociology, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Priscilla Healey School of Child and Youth Care, University of Victoria, Canada / Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Michaela Smith Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, University of Victoria, Canada


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Abstract:  Much of the literature on street‐involved youth focuses on their deficits, including their high risk of withdrawing before completing high school, which is often interpreted as a rejection of formal education. Missing from the literature is an understanding of street‐involved youth’s educational aspirations. We employed thematic analysis of qualitative data from in‐person interviews with a purposive sample of street‐involved youth (N = 69) residing in one city in Canada, who were partly or fully disengaged from school at the time of the interview. We asked the youth to talk about their opinions of formal education, its importance for young people, whether learning was important for them, and whether they imagined returning to school/continuing with school. We discovered that the majority of youth had a positive view of school/formal education and stated they liked learning new things and recognized the benefits of continuing/completing their education. At the same time, the youth identified material hardship and other barriers to achieving their educational goals. We discuss these findings in light of the relevant literature and make policy recommendations to improve educational success for youth struggling with poverty and homelessness in Canada.

Keywords:  Canada; education; educational aspirations; homelessness; social inclusion; street‐involved youth

Published:   Ahead of Print

Issue:   New Approaches to the Study of Social Inclusion of Poor Children and Youth (Forthcoming)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/si.v10i4.5335


© Laura Vetrone, Cecilia Benoit, Doug Magnuson, Sven Mikael Jansson, Priscilla Healey, Michaela Smith. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.