Education in Canada
Education has two main goals: to give individuals the opportunity to develop
themselves, and to provide society with the skills it needs to evolve in its best
interests. Canada’s educational system is based on finding a coordinated approach
to the pursuit of these sometimes conflicting goals. Comprehensive, diversified, and
available to everyone, the system reflects the Canadian belief in the importance of
Education in Canada consists of 10 provincial and two territorial systems, including
public schools, “separate” (i.e., denominational) schools, and private schools.
Children are required by law to attend school from the age of 6 or 7 until they are
15 or 16. To make it possible to fulfil this obligation, all non-private education
through secondary (or “high”) school is publicly funded. In Quebec, general and
vocational colleges (CEGEPs, or Colleges d’enseignement gnral et professionnel)
are also publicly funded and require only a minimal registration fee. Most other
post-secondary schools, however, charge tuition fees.
A provincial responsibility
Unlike many other industrialized countries, Canada has no federal educational
system: the Constitution vested the exclusive responsibility for education in the
provinces. Each provincial system, while similar to the others, reflects its particular
region, history, and culture. The provincial departments of education–headed by an
elected minister–set standards, draw up curriculums, and give grants to educational
Responsibility for the administration of elementary and secondary schools is
delegated to local elected school boards or commissions. The boards set budgets, hire
and negotiate with teachers, and shape school curriculums within provincial
A broad federal role
The federal government plays an indirect but vital role in education. It provides
financial support for post-secondary educ...
ation, labour market training, and the
teaching of the two official languages–especially second-language training. In
addition, it is responsible for the education of Aboriginals, armed forces personnel
and their dependants, and inmates of federal penal institutions. Overall, the federal
government pays over one-fifth of Canada’s yearly educational bill.
One important part of this contribution is the Canada Student Loans Program,
which assists students who do not have sufficient resources to pursue their studies.
The program provides loan guarantees and, in the case of full-time students, interest
subsidies to help meet the cost of studies at the post-secondary level. Provinces have
complementary programs of loans and bursaries.
Another federal initiative, scheduled to take effect in the year 2000, is Canada
Millennium Scholarships. Through an initial endowment of $2.5 billion, this
program will provide scholarships to more than 100,000 students each year over 10
years. This represents the largest single investment the federal government has ever
made in support of universal access to post-secondary education. Scholarships will
average $3,000 a year, and individuals can receive up to $15,000 over a maximum of
four academic years. These scholarships could halve the debt load that recipients
would otherwise face.
Elementary and secondary schools
About five million children now attend public schools in Canada In some provinces,
children can enter kindergarten at the age of four before starting the elementary
grades at age six. General and fundamental, the elementary curriculum emphasizes
the basic subjects of language, math, social studies, introductory arts and science.
In general, high school programs consist of two streams. The first prepares students
for university, the second for post-secondary education at a community college or
institute of technology, or for the workplace. There are also special programs for
students unable to complete
the conventional courses of study.
In most provinces, individual schools now set, conduct and mark their own
examinations. In some provinces, however, students must pass a graduation
examination in certain key subjects in order to proceed to the post-secondary level.
University entrance thus depends on course selection and marks in high school;
requirements vary from province to province.
For parents seeking alternatives to the public system, there are separate as well as
private schools. Some provinces have legislation that permits the establishment of
separate schools by religious groups. Mostly Roman Catholic, separate schools,
which in 1995 accounted for about one-fourth of Canada’s public school enrolment,
offer a complete parochial curriculum from kindergarten through the secondary
level in some provinces.
Private or independent schools have a current enrolment of over a quarter of a
million students, and offer a great variety of curriculum options based on religion,
language, or academic status.
Canada’s elementary and secondary education systems employ close to 300,000
full-time teachers. Their professional training generally includes at least four or five
years of study (a Bachelor of Education degree normally requires university
graduation plus one year of educational studies). Teachers are licensed by the
provincial departments of education.
For most of Canada’s history, post-secondary education was provided almost
exclusively by its universities. These were mainly private institutions, many with a
religious affiliation. During the 1960s, however, as the demand for greater variety in
post-secondary education rose sharply and enrolment mushroomed, systems of
publicly operated post-secondary non-university institutions began to develop.
Today in Canada, some 200 technical institutes and community colleges complement
about 100 universities, attracting a total post-secondary enrolment of approximately
1 million. Student fees, owing to substantial government subsidies, account for only
about 11% of the cost of Canadian post-secondary education.
Canada’s universities are internationally known for the quality of their teaching and
research. Examples include the neurological breakthroughs of Wilder Penfield at
McGill University and the discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto by
Frederick Banting, C.H. Best, J.J.R. Macleod, and J.B. Collip. Full-time enrolment
in Canadian universities stands at over half a million, with enrolments at individual
institutions ranging from less than a 1,000 to over 35,000. Women are well
represented in the universities: they receive more than half of all degrees conferred.
Canada’s school system: a national asset
The Canadian belief in education is general and deep. And this belief is reflected in
a considerable financial commitment: Canada ranks among the world’s leaders in
per capita spending on public education. Canada maintains this level of investment
because it continues to generate healthy returns. Almost everywhere, the quality of
education is directly related to the quality of life. In Canada, the high educational
level (almost half the population over the age of 15 now has some post-secondary
schooling) has proven to be a powerful contributor to the country’s favourable
standard of living, its growth of opportunity, and its reputation as a place where
intellectual accomplishment is fostered and profitably pursued.
Canada is the world’s second-largest country (9 970 610 km2), surpassed only by the
Ottawa, in the province of Ontario.
Provinces and Territories
Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories, each with its own capital city (in
brackets): Alberta (Edmonton); British Columbia (Victoria); Prince Edward Island
(Charlottetown); Manitoba (Winnipeg); New Brunswick (Fredericton); Nova Scotia
(Halifax); Nunavut (Iqaluit); Ontario
- Educational Psychology
- Bachelor's Degree
- Graduate School
- Higher Education
- Language Learning
- Middle School
- Second Language
- Special Education
- Studying Business
- Vocational Education
- Bachelor of science
- Education System
- Physical Education
- Philosophy of Education
- Purpose of Education
- Educational Goals
- Importance Of College Education
- Academic Degree
- Organizational Behavior
- Role Model
- College Life
- Academic Dishonesty