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What will my children’s education be like as newcomers to Canada?


Information about the educational structure in Canada.


There are public and private educational systems in Canada.


From kindergarten through post-secondary education, public education in Canada is subsidized by the government. The average amount that the government invests in education is close to 6% of its GDP.


The province-specific age of compulsory education in Canada stipulates that minors must attend school between a certain age range. Kindergarten programs are available in some regions. However, every province requires that kids between the ages of seven and sixteen go to school. The minimum age for enrollment in school in Manitoba, New Brunswick, the Northwest Territories, and Ontario is 18.


Educational levels


Generally speaking, the educational system—public or private—is split into three levels:

  • Primary Education

  • Secondary Education

  • Post Secondary Education


Kindergarten or Grade 1 (ages six to seven), also known as elementary school, lasts until Grade 8 in the primary education system. (ages 13 to 14). Typically, the academic year lasts from September to June.


Grade 9 (ages 14 to 15) through Grade 12 (ages 17 to 18) comprise secondary education, also referred to as high school. Students in Quebec attend secondary school until they are sixteen. They can then proceed to CEGEP, a two-year college where students can seek either a vocational certificate or a diploma for university preparation.


Canada has a vast post-secondary education system, which includes colleges and universities. In both urban and rural regions across the nation, there are numerous universities offering programs that are highly regarded abroad. The college or university year typically consists of two semesters or terms and lasts from September to April or May. Students typically begin their post-secondary education programs in September.


French and English language education


French or English are available for study to international students. Although some educational institutions provide teaching in both languages, it is not necessary for students to be bilingual to enroll in school in Canada at any level.


English is the primary language of instruction across the majority of the nation, but French language instruction is widely accessible everywhere. Regardless of the primary language of teaching, French or English is typically taught starting at a young age.


In Quebec, language instruction is conducted uniquely. Up until the end of high school, students in Quebec are typically required to take classes in French. However, a youngster might be qualified to take English classes if:

  • The mother or parent of a child studied elementary English in Canada;

  • A child’s or a child’s sibling’s primary or secondary education in English was completed in Canada (if the child’s mother or father is a citizen of Canada);

  • If the mother or father of the child were a Canadian citizen and attended school in Quebec after August 26th, 1977, they might have been deemed qualified for English instruction at that time.


In general, when immigrants to Canada choose to settle in Quebec, their kids must attend public education in French. Private schools may offer English-language programs, though. Additionally, children whose parents are temporarily residing in Quebec (for instance, on a job or study permit) are permitted to attend school in English.


How does Canadian education stack up internationally?


One of the most educated nations in the world, Canada is home to some of the best educational institutions in the world.


The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) gauges 15-year-olds’ aptitude for applying their reading, math, and science information and skills to real-world problems.


PISA released the findings of their assessments in 2018. The average test scores of Canadian students were very good across the board. Among the 78 participating nations, Canada came in sixth in reading, eighth in science and twelfth in math. This indicates that Canada’s average subject scores were near or above the 90th percentile for all participating countries.

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