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