The Education System in Canada

free essayCanada is well-known not only for being the second biggest country in the world, but also for its various achievements, particularly in the area of education. The system of education can vary among the regions, but it is absolutely free of charge for the country’s inhabitants. While the primary education is not much different from many other countries, the statistics shows that the level of the post-school education in this country is the highest. At the same time, the advantages of the higher education in Canada are supported by the fact that it is on the second place according to the advanced education quality. The current paper is aimed at analyzing the system of the Canadian education from the historical perspective and finding out the factors that have contributed to its modern strength.

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History of Education in Canada

Canada belongs to the one of the decentralized federations in the world. Its education has a strong policy and its jurisdiction is provided on the 3 territories and 10 provinces, which means that all 13 parts have their own educational departments or ministries (Mundy, 2007).

During a long period, education in Canada was provided in a family circle, and knowledge was passed from the old to the young generations. Due to the colonies, France and the Great Britain had a considerable impact on education. The educational system entered the phase of active creation after the Second World War. In 1945, the first successful government programs that put an emphasis on the social security and public health were provided.  During 1960-1980, Canada had a period of the international development of education. Therefore, after 1970, Canada started the supportive policy of the multicultural national identity, which led to substantial changes in the assimilation (Mundy, 2007). At that time, many people returned to their homes to share their knowledge, many teachers and volunteers arrived in order to improve their career perspectives. In addition, the universities` development has started, which led to the increase of funding of new projects and strategies. The next period of the educational improvement was from 1980 to 1990 (Mundy, 2007). This period was special, because the government provided successful attempts in the use of more systematic approaches in regard to the educational system. At that time, the definition of the global education appeared for the first time. However, the funding was not enough to realize the idea in all parts of the country.  The year 1990 was famous for the progression of the global education idea and human internationalism. Despite a substantial funding on all levels, the Canadian educational system faced a lot of national and international challenges (Mundy, 2007).

Nowadays, education in Canada is a highly strong institute with the confident international position, which attracts many students around the world.

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System of Education

Education in Canada consists of primary, secondary and postsecondary parts that are provided by the local, provincial and federal government. Provinces are responsible for these stages of education. The primary education is divided into pre-elementary and elementary levels. The pre-elementary education, which is also called as kindergarten, is supposed to offer pre-grade service to 5 years old children (Freeman, 2011). Due to different jurisdiction, the age from which such education is available can be four, and sometimes it can be even earlier. The kindergarten education is quite intensive, and it is possible to choose programs on a full or half day.

When time comes to get the elementary education, depending on the jurisdictions, the age also can be different, namely children can sometimes start at five or six years old. As a rule, at the age of six or five until sixteen or eighteen, the school attendance is obligatory. The elementary school duration is from six to eight years. Therefore, the secondary education continues around 98% of the elementary students with its duration from 4 to 6 years (Freeman 2011).

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The last part is the postsecondary education, which is possible for both private institutions and those with the government support. During this education, it is possible to receive certificates, degrees, attestations and diplomas, which depends on the length and nature of such education. In addition, it is possible to participate in the vocational education and training. There are a series of courses or several-year programs that provide students with specified skills, which lead them to the career or programs based on these skills.

Therefore, after the secondary education, students can receive a certificate from the college, and the duration of the education is 1 year. After that, a process of getting a 2 years diploma begins. Another way is to receive an associate degree after the secondary education, which means a higher professional education. The most common way is to get a Bachelor`s degree after a high school, and the length of this education is 3 or 4 years. After that, a Master`s degree is got at the university after 1 or 2 years, and the last stage is receiving of the PhD degree (doctor of philosophy), the length of which is 3 years (Freeman, 2011).

Education for Students of Special Needs

Nowadays, education of students with special needs demands more attention than ever, because of the considerable significance of this problem. Canada statistics in 2012 confirmed that there are around 13, 7 percent (almost four million) of 15 years old people with different disabilities. The level of people from 15 to 24 with learning disorders, pain and psychological or mental problems are approximately 4,4 percent. In case of the 22 students in the class, the number of people with disabilities was around 3,5 percent (Towle, 2015).

Canada provides effective approaches toward children with disabilities and special needs. Their healthcare and educational rights are protected by the government. Children with visual, emotional, language, behavioral, intellectual, hearing or speech problems or with other specific needs have rights for a free public education. According to the law, all Canadian state schools have to develop a special educational program for children with behavioral, physical, communication and mental disabilities; and this program has to be also established for the gifted children. In the process of registration of children with special needs, everything depends on policies and regulations of provinces. Most of them are involved into the Educational Act that is supposed to help with the detailed information about the educational policy designed for people with special needs. In addition, it is possible to get a support on the local level for children with special needs. Another way to help students with such problems is a transition planning. After becoming older, people with disabilities and their parents are concerned about the life after school and future in the communities. In this case, the transition plan is highly helpful, because of its strategy of adaptation to the community life as adults. The transition plan can be different in several territories, and the age of high school staying can vary from 20 to 22, depending on the province where students live (Towle, 2015).

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Higher Education (Problems, Challenges, Criticism)

In terms of the globalization and internalization, the modern higher education in Canada faces many challenges. One of them is difficulties with funding. Such problems are connected with the provincial governments, because funds of their programs or institutions are cut or reduced by the federal government. Another challenge is finding a job after the graduation. Unfortunately, it is a substantially widespread problem, when students cannot find a job they wish. For universities, it is crucial to change curriculum and prepare students for the real work conditions. According to the survey of the graduating students in 2012, many of them did not feel themselves prepared to the future jobs with the university knowledge they had obtained, and only 45% were prepared for the next graduation and work or the further study (Munro, 2014). Therefore, it is of paramount significance to adapt study programs to the uncertain economic environment and market demands.

Another block of common problems of the higher education in Canada includes a preparedness of the students, because they are sometimes not ready to begin the study in the university.  The related problem to the previous one is an extremely growing level of international students, who have problems with their qualification. The main problem of the universities is not the acceptance of international students, but the attraction of as many international students as possible, without clear looking on their rate and knowledge. The next challenge is right understanding of the universities` expectations, because often students believe that only their expectations are essential; thus, they are not ready for the upcoming difficulties.


In Canada, a curriculum is developed based on the cultural and practical survival skills teaching to standard-based achievements. The curriculum term in Latin means the experience that is supposed to teach children and help them in becoming adults. Nowadays, the curriculum means the development of outcomes and the educational plan establishment that are supposed to help students in receiving specific educational skills and improving their knowledge.

Therefore, the curriculum is an official document that is usually called the teachers` guideline. These documents are developed and established by the territorial and provincial educational ministries. The main purpose of the curriculum is to provide students and teachers with a proper content, which has to be learned, and a determination of a time, when this content should be learned during the academic or school year. Traditionally, teachers are choosing the educational directions, amount of material and the ways they have to employ in this regard. As a rule, there is no distinction between teachers` ways of education and the content of the curriculum. During the elementary education, the curriculum is focused on main subjects such as social studies, language, physical health education, mathematics, science and arts. Sometimes, there is a learning of the second language in this list. In terms of the secondary education, during first years, it is possible to have some options in choosing courses. For the next years, the option offers is increased, so the students have the abilities to attend special courses that are crucial for their future job or help in preparing to meet the postsecondary education requirements. In order to get the diplomas, students must finish an obligatory number of optional and compulsory courses (Freeman, 2013).

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However, there are always some attempts to change education by influencing on the curriculum, but they are usually failing. The main reason is that the official curriculum is not always effective and needs serious changes.

International Comparison

The OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) usually provides a test that is called PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), the purpose of which is to compare different countries and students. This test is focused on the knowledge in science, math and reading. In 2012, 65 countries participated in the test, and near 7 countries had the same results as Canada, while only 9 counties received higher results. In reading and science tests, Canada was on the top in comparison with other participants, while in terms of math, it received only the 13th place. However, according to the results, the Canadian students got rather high scores in the math test that is a substantially high result when compared with other countries. In addition, there was involved the gender aspect, whereas the results of the boys were higher than those of the girls. In terms of the science test, the results were approximately the same. In Canada, as in other countries, the girl’s performance in reading was better than that of the boys (OECD, 2014).

According to the results of the test, Canada is a substantially high ranked country with the most effective educational system. It belongs to the countries, where the gap between students with a low and high performance is small to a considerable degree. In terms of comparing Canada with the USA in this regard, it is possible to find similar and different aspects. The similarities include the federal government, which divided the territory in parts, with their own jurisdictions as well as specific educational strategies and projects. Both countries are highly internationalized, and the level of the international students is much bigger, than in other countries. However, there are also some differences, and the most crucial one consists in the smaller amount of students with the low performance in Canada. When compared to the USA, in Canada, teachers are better trained, and they have higher salaries and better job perspectives. In Canada, there are much smaller achievement gaps among different population. Moreover, the difference in the province funding is not critical, especially when compared to that of the American education system.

Why Canada Belongs to Top 20 Countries in the World in Education

Canada is always in the top 20 countries in terms of education because of the high level of the results and ranks in the study as well as a great level of the internationalization. Canadian students perform so well due to the positive and effective economic and social environment. According to the statistical data, Canada has the most effective study results, and it has the same position among G8 countries (OECD, 2014).

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Besides the extremely high educational performance, Canada offers a lot of scholarships, loans and other support for the Canadians as well as international students. Such scholarships can be given to those who get different degrees such as the Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD and postdoctoral in all possible areas. Moreover, because of the extremely high academic standards, the degrees from the Canadian universities are highly valuable, and they are recognized around the world as perspective to a considerable degree. Due to the multicultural education, it is quite easy for international students to adapt and show their best results. Furthermore, the Canadian universities are famous for their research possibilities that provide students with opportunities to continue their education and receive substantially impressive results in their projects. Additionally, Canada is one of the most modern countries with highly significant technologies and innovations. This progress is mostly adjusted in the educational area.


Consequently, the history of the education development in Canada is quite interesting. It dates back to the World War II as the crucial date associated with a number of changes in the system and governmental programs’ implementation that had gradually allowed Canada to reach the highest level of education worldwide. Nowadays, it has a number of advantages that help in educating students successfully. The country lets all students to get a number of degrees from the Bachelor’s to Master’s or PhD. Moreover, there exist peculiar approaches to students with special needs. In such a way, the possibilities to get a sound higher education is available to all population groups. Even though there still exists a problem of finding a job for the post-graduates, the students refer high rates of knowledge, and the country is open to the international students’ exchange. Moreover, a high level of supply with technologies and incorporating of the cultural and practical survival skills into the curriculum have made the education in Canada be one of the best around the world. According to the international tests, its results are excellent in reading and science, while they are rather good in math and other subjects. Consequently, remaining in the top 20 countries in terms of education, Canada ensures a positive and effective economic and social environment to the native and international students. High academic standards ensure good opportunities for students to participate in various projects as well as guarantee their future involvement in diverse innovations’ implementation processes.