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  Canadian Education

Ten Top Universities in Canada

Source: Maclean's, 2004

  Rank   University  
  1   University of Toronto  
  2   McGill University  
  3   University of Western Ontario  
  4   University of British Columbia  
  5   Queen's University  
  6   University of Alberta  
  7   University of Montreal  
  8   McMaster University  
  9   University de Sherbrooke  
  10   University of Saskatchewan  
Canadian Education

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 institutions.

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.

Other Schools

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.

Teacher Training

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 teachers.

Post-Secondary Education

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.

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