school system in canada

What is the school system in Canada?

Canada is one of the best educated countries in the world. In 2015, 90 % of people in Canada aged 25 to 64 had completed their high school, and 66 % had obtained a post-secondary education.

Canada has a strong, largely managed and well -funded system of public education. Consequently, some aspects of the education system in canada may vary between provinces. However, as education system is overseen by the federal government of canada, the standard of education remains consistently high throughout the country. All over the School and education system in Canada is good and affordable.

The school system in Canada

There is a public and private education system in Canada. The Canadian government subsidizes education from kindergarten to the post-secondary level, and spends on average almost 6% of its GDP on education. This means Canada spends proportional more on education than the average among OECD countries.

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Generally speaking, the education system is divided into three levels:

  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Post-secondary

Private education and other schooling systems — for example, religious schools — are also available at all three levels.

Education in Canada is available to children the year they turn five (except in Ontario and Quebec, where children may start a year earlier). Depending on the province, kindergarten may be optional. The table below shows, generally speaking, the ages between which children are required to attend school (note that requirements may differ for homeschooling, which is legal across Canada).

ProvinceAge of compulsory education
AlbertaSix to 16
British ColumbiaSix to 16
ManitobaSeven to 18
New BrunswickFive to 18
NewfoundlandSix to 16
Northwest TerritoriesFive to 18
Nova ScotiaFive to 16
OntarioSix to 18
Prince Edward IslandFive to 16
QuebecSix to 16
SaskatchewanSeven to 16
YukonSix to 16

Primary Education

Also known as elementary school, this level runs from Kindergarten or Grade 1 (ages six to seven) and runs through to Grade 8 (ages 13 to 14). The school year normally runs from September through to the following June.

Secondary Education

Secondary Education also known as high school, in this level runs from Grade 9 (ages 14 to 15) to Grade 12 (ages 17 to 18). Ontario has a Grade 12+. Students attend high school until the age of 16. A publicly-funded two-year college where students may pursue a university preparation diploma.

Post-secondary Education

Canada has a wide network of colleges and universities, offering the best post-secondary education system worldwide.

Canada has many internationally university programs located in both urban and rural regions throughout the nation. Degrees awarded from Canadian universities are recognized as equivalent to those from other universities across worldwide.

The university year mainly runs from September to April or May and is comprised of two semesters or terms. Post-secondary institutions may offers the option of taking courses in a third semester during the summer months.

Education in English and French

Many international students may choose to study in either one of Canada’s two official languages. Some institutions may offer instruction in two or more languages, although students is not nesccary to be fluent in both languages to attend school at any level in Canada.

Across most of Canada, the basic language of school-level education is English. However, French-language education is also available throughout the country. The main language of instruction, French or English as a second language is generally taught from an early age.

There are  exceptions under which a child may obtain a certificate of eligibility to receive instruction in language (english):

  •  A child’s mother or father pursued elementary studies in English in Canada;
  • If your siblings, has received the major part of their elementary or secondary school instruction in English in Canada (if the child’s mother or father is a Canadian citizen);
  •  A student mother or father attended school in Québec after August 26, 1977, and could have been declared eligible for instruction in English at that time (if the child’s mother or father is a Canadian citizen).

In addition, children whose parents are in Quebec temporarily (for example, on a work or study permit), can attend school in English.

However, when new people to Canada settle in Quebec, their children are required to attend public school in French. so this is all about the school and education system in canada.

Canada’s other forms of schooling
1. Vocational Schools

Students are often given the opportunity to learn a career or vocation at technical schools that are spread across Canada, in addition to community colleges providing vocational training. Years ago, such services did not require students to hold a high school diploma, but in recent years, things have changed considerably.


Vocational schools encourage Canadian students under a competent and experienced supervisor to learn the particular trade they are interested in and gain real-life experience.

How do the years of school work in Canada?

For at least 10 years, schooling in all Canadian provinces is compulsory. Compulsory schooling starts at the age of 5 or 6 in Grade 1, and finishes at high school at some point. Students must attend school until the age of 16 in most provinces (around Grade 10).

In Canada, is school education free?

In the Canadian public school system, schooling is free for all students. Depending on the province or territory, children must attend school until the age of 16 or 18.

In Canada, how does the university system work?

Three degrees are offered by the Canadian education system: bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees. You are welcome, as an international student, to finish all or part of your education in Canada. There are also public and private universities, as in other countries.

Independent Academies

In Canada, private schools are often open, meaning that they are schools that are not government-funded, and sometimes come with heavy price tags. It is the parent and student’s decision to decide whether this is a worthy investment for them to make or not.

Some parents feel as if, for personal reasons, their children require smaller classes, more special attention, or want to send them to a particular school. Those who do not wish to study in French and are able to afford it will always opt for a private school in Quebec.

Religious Colleges

Many who want to send their children to Canada’s religious schools must, for the most part, send them to private institutions other than certain Catholic schools. Both the standard school curriculum and religious teachings aligned with the school’s unique faith are taught by these schools.


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