Barriers for Black Students

In order to work towards a better future together, it is important to understand the unique barriers faced by Black children in the Canadian education system. In Toronto, the dropout rate for Black students is 23%, compared to 12% for White students.2 Let’s have a look at some of the factors that may impact the successful completion of their secondary education:

Financial Barriers

Children who face financial barriers are often excluded from opportunities at school and sometimes do not have the same access to supports that help them succeed. According to Statistics Canada, the rate of Black families living in poverty (12.1%) is much higher than the national rate (8.1%).1 In fact, as of October of 2020, the unemployment rate for Black Canadians was 5 points higher than the rate for Canadians who are not a visible minority (11.7% vs. 6.7%).2 Racial bias in hiring practices is just one of the many factors that contribute to the employment and income gaps between Black and White households.

Reduced Optimism in Post-Secondary Pursuits

Many Black youth feel a post-secondary education is out of their reach. In 2015, a survey of Black Canadian youth ages 15 to 25 showed that 94% would like to complete a university degree (compared to 82% across other groups), but only 59.9% thought it was possible. In comparison, 78.8% of other racial groups surveyed believed a post-secondary education was achievable.3

Lack of Black Teachers as Role Models

Studies have shown that having a Black teacher can increase the likelihood for post-secondary enrollment of Black students by 13%, and decrease the likelihood of dropping out by 29%. Unfortunately, although 3.5% of Canada’s population is Black, only 1.8% of teachers are Black.2

Discrimination and Devaluation from School Authorities

Did you know that Black students are four times more likely to be expelled from a Toronto high school than White students? Another study found that teachers in Ontario were twice as likely to rate a White student as “excellent” than a Black student (with the same standardized EQAO scores) on their report card. This attitude is further reflected in the fact that Black students are two and a half times more likely than White students to be streamed into non-academic “applied” programs in Toronto.2

Racialized Approaches to Discipline and Policing

Many Black youth grow up witnessing rampant racial profiling and anti-Black hate crimes, and may encounter them personally as they mature. Within Canada, the Black community is most likely to be targeted for hate crimes based on race or ethnicity.5 In Toronto specifically, a Black male is three times more likely to be stopped by police and asked for identification.4

The hardships and obstacles faced by Black individuals in Canada are dynamic and ever-changing, but even the few barriers articulated above demonstrate the true need for intervention and innovation within Education. In Moorelands Kids’ programs, we equip disadvantaged youth with the tools they need for success. We teach them how to be leaders within their community, and inspire them to see a bright future for themselves through skill building, support and mentorship.

We encourage you to take some time to reflect on how your own experiences in education may have been influenced by bias, or how you may be contributing personally to these societal barriers for Black youth. Together we can work to dispel Black stereotypes and disrupt the institutional biases challenging Black youth.


  1. Zhang, Xuelin, and André Bernard. “Disaggregated Trends in Poverty from the 2021 Census of Population.” Government of Canada, Statistics Canada, Government of Canada, Statistics Canada, 9 Nov. 2022,
  2. 2. DasGupta, N., Shandal, V., Shadd, D., Segal, A., & CivicAction, in conjunction with. (2022, August 8). The pervasive reality of anti-black racism in Canada. Boston Consulting Group Publications. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from
  3. Slaughter, G., & Singh, M. (2020, June 7). Five charts that show what systemic racism looks like in Canada. CTVNews. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from
  4. Heritage, C. (2020, October 16). Government of Canada. Retrieved January 26, 2023, from
  5. “Hate Crime in Canada.” Canadian Race Relations Foundation , Canadian Race Relations Foundation , 2 Mar. 2020,

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