Canada has two streams for higher education - Community
Colleges and Universities. Both of the streams have
their certain terms and conditions for the admission of
foreign students in Canada.
Public education in Canada is co-educational and free
including secondary school. The law requires children to
attend school from the age of 6 or 7 until they are 15
or 16 years old. In Quebec, free education is extended
to include attendance at the general and vocational
colleges (CEGEPs), which charge only a minimal
registration fee. The student pays tuition for most
other post-secondary education.
Canada gives especially high priority to post-secondary
education, which is proving to be increasingly important
for knowledge-based economies. Compared to other
industrialized counties, Canada is among the leaders in
expenditures for enrollment in post-secondary
institutions. Canada also ranks near the top of all
industrialized nations in the share of the gross
domestic product devoted to public sector funding of
education. More than a quarter of the Canadian working
population has a university or college degree and
approximately one half are high school graduates.
A Provincial Responsibility
There is no federal educational system in Canada: the
Constitution vested the exclusive responsibility for
education to the provinces. Each provincial system,
while similar to the others, reflects its specific
regional concerns and historical and cultural heritage.
The provincial departments of education -- headed by an
elected minister -- set standards, draw up curriculums
and give grants to educational institutions.
Responsibility for the administration of elementary and
secondary (or high) schools is delegated to local
elected school boards or commissions. The boards set
local budgets, hire and negotiate with teachers, and
shape school curriculums within provincial guidelines.
The federal government has an indirect involvement in
education. It provides financial support for post-
secondary education, adult occupational 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
The federal government, through its Canada Student
Loans Program, assists students who do not have
sufficient resources to pursue their studies. It
provides loans 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. In
1991-92, provincial and federal government expenditures
for student aid amounted to just over $794 million.
Elementary and Secondary Schools
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 some provinces, enriched or accelerated programs are
available for academically gifted children. Slow
learners and disabled students can be placed in special
programs, classes or institutions.
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 regular programs.
In most provinces, individual schools now set, conduct
and mark their own examinations. In some provinces,
however, students need to succeed a graduation
examination in certain key subjects in order to access
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.
Provincial legislation permits the establishment of
separate schools by religious groups. Mostly Roman
Catholic, separate schools offer a complete parochial
curriculum from kindergarten through the secondary level
in some provinces. Private or independent schools offer
a great variety of curriculum options based on religion,
language, or social or academic status.
Canada's elementary and secondary education systems
employed close to 297 000 full-time teachers. Their
professional training includes at least four or five
years of study combining a university degree with at
least one-year to complete the Bachelor of Education
degree. The provincial departments of education license
Until the mid-1960s, the universities provided post-
secondary education in Canada almost exclusively.
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 enrollment mushroomed, systems of
publicly operated post-secondary non-university
institutions began to develop.
Today, university and other post-secondary education is
subsidized by the provincial and federal governments.
University student fees only account for an average 17.8
percent of operating revenues of $6.6 billion.