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An Overview of Canada- Profile and Education System Guide

Geographical Location

Canada, a country in North America, is the world's second largest country by area- nearly 10 million square kilometers or 3.8 million square miles. Canada consists of 10 provinces and 3 territories. Canada is a developed country and one of the affluent in the world, with the eighth highest per capita income globally, and the eleventh highest ranking in the Human Development Index. Ottawa is the capital city of Canada and Toronto is the largest urban center of Canada. Canada plays an astronomically immense role in the world's economy and is one of the largest trading partners of the United States. Canada is one of the world’s top education performers and among the top 3 OECD nations in spending per capita on public postsecondary education.

Prominent features of Education System Historically to Present

The public school system was developed in the 19th century and was marked by the standardization of textbooks, teacher training and classroom organization.  Technical and Vocational courses were developed for students. During the 20th century, the expansion of Post-Secondary institutions took place wherein the students were sorted based on the different programs offered. The focus was now shifted to appropriate curriculum for several age groups. The education system in Canada encompasses both publicly-funded and private schools, including: community colleges, technical institutes, career colleges, language schools, secondary schools, summer camps, and universities. Education is a provincial responsibility under the Canadian constitutions, which implies there are substantial divergences between the education systems of the different provinces. At present, each province and territory follow three tiers- elementary, secondary, and post-secondary and each jurisdiction has its own quality assurance mechanism.
Education Position: Canada places third in new international ranking of higher-education systems.

Compulsory Education

Education in Canada is compulsory up to the age of 16 in every province, except for Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick, where the compulsory age is 18, or as soon as a high school diploma has been achieved. In some provinces early leaving exemptions can be granted under certain circumstances at 14. Thus, by law, children must attend school beginning at the age of 5 or 6 and until they reach an age between 16 and 18, depending on the province or territory. Parents have the right, nonetheless, to educate their children themselves at home, rather than in a government-run public school or a private school.

Education System

Elementary and secondary education is the two basic levels of schooling for youngsters in Canada. In conjunction, these two levels of education include up to 12 years of study. Education usually begins with kindergarten, followed by grades 1 to 12 in most provinces and territories. Students go from primary to secondary school between grades 6 and 8, depending on the province or territory. Students who successfully complete secondary school receive a high school diploma.  At the post-secondary level, Canada offers a range of education institutions i.e. University, University Colleges, Community Colleges and Career Colleges or Technical Institutes. Likewise, language programs, English or French as a second language, are offered at middle schools, high schools, colleges, universities and private language schools.

Statistics: Canada's post-secondary opportunities revolve around a broad range of university options. Throughout Canada's 13 provinces and territories, there are 98 universities to optate from. Canadian Universities in the 2013 fall semester, created history by welcoming 1,015,000 undergraduate students onto campuses across the country. And as well there has been an increment in the graduate student’s enrollment at the Canadian Universities. There are now 195,400 graduate students. (Source: http://www.aucc.ca/)

Language of Instruction

Since Canada is a bilingual country, English-language and French-language schools are available throughout the country.  In Canada, almost all public schools use either English or French as the medium of instruction; French is standard in the province of Quebec and, along with English, in New Brunswick.
Standardized Tests or Entrance Exam: The Standardized tests requirements vary by college and program. The standardized tests that students are required to take for admissions to several colleges and universities in Canada are as follows:
1.    Undergraduate Level:
  • SAT (Scholastic Aptitude tests): The SAT has three sections- Critical Reading, Mathematics and Writing and is taken for college admission in Canada.

2.    Graduate level:
  • GRE (Graduate record Examination): In Canada, GRE is required for master's level or doctoral degree admission. It is a computer based test and has been developed to assess the verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills.
  • GMAT (Graduate Management Admission tests): To obtain admission in MBA in Canada, it is indispensable to take GMAT. The test comprises of three main sections-analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, and verbal reasoning.
  • LSAT (Law School Admission Tests): The LSAT is typically required for admission into law degree programs. It offers a standard measure of acquired reading and verbal reasoning skills.
  • MCAT (Medical College Admission test): MCAT is required for admission into medical programs. MCAT is a standardized, multiple-choice test that assesses problem solving, critical thinking, and writing skills in addition to the knowledge of science concepts and principles prerequisite to the study of medical specialty
3.    Language Proficiency:
  • TOEFL: The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is one of the most important exams to get admission in Canadian colleges. It measures the ability to communicate in English across all four language skills - listening, reading, writing and speaking.
  • IELTS: Universities in Canada seek for the IELTS test report as an admission requirement. Candidates are tested in Listening, Writing and Speaking.

International Students

 The country bears a very vigorous economy, an excellent education system, and a high standard of living and is a cost effective alternative for students to embark on their international education. English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL) courses are available to support international students.

The total number of international students in Canada by Level of study from 2000 to 2010 has increased at an intermediate growth pace of 7% per year. Students classified under the “Other Post Secondary” category have grown the fastest, at a rate of 15% per year, followed by those students classified in the “University” category, with an annual growth rate of 8%. Students who pursue studies in the K-12 system have grown at a rate of 2% per year during this period. Enrollment of international students in vocational trade colleges additionally relished vigorous double-digit annual growth up. Full-time international enrolment at all levels has increased by more than 11 percent since 2010. Also, from year 2000 to 2010, Ontario has attracted the greatest number of international students amongst all provinces and territories, followed by Quebec, which has taken almost 15% of the total number of international students in the country.  It had taken almost 40% of all international students in Canada.

There are now 100,000 international students in Canada, from more than 200 countries, thereby, bringing the total number of international students in Canada to 260,000 (**2013 data).
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