Canada spends more per capita on education than most other Western nations. Education is a provincial responsibility. The country has 10 provincial school systems and three territorial systems. Each system has its own approach to funding and administration.

Public education is free until the end of secondary school. Some provinces require children to buy their own textbooks. Most provinces have a kindergarten program to prepare children for Grade 1. Elementary school is from Grade 1 to Grade 6, 7 or 8. Secondary school or high school continues to Grade 12. In Quebec, however, high school ends with Grade 11; students who want to continue their studies attend a CEGEP (Collège Général et Professionel) for two or three years.

Special education is available in the public school system for children with special needs, such as physical disabilities. There are also many private schools in Canada. They charge fees, although some offer scholarships to students who pass competitive examinations. Children attend school from September to June, Monday to Friday, with a break at the end of December. Classes usually begin at 8:30 or 9:00 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. Many students stay after school for extra-curricular activities, such as sports teams, drama clubs, choirs and bands.

Outside Quebec, provinces may provide schooling in French for French-speaking children or French immersion for English children. Many schools offer English classes for immigrants, and some schools offer classes in other languages, so that the children of immigrants can learn the language of their families.Postsecondary education is available in most Canadian cities. Universities and community colleges are partly funded by the government, but students also pay tuition fees. Community colleges offer training in arts and trades as well as continuing education courses for working adults.

  Did you know?
Students from all over the world come to Montreal to learn to be acrobats, trapeze artists, dancers and actors at Ecole Nationale du Cirque. This circus school works closely with the world-famous Cirque du Soleil.

  Did you know?
At Confederation in 1867, Quebec kept its Catholic school system. When Newfoundland joined Confederation in 1949, it also kept its church-based school system. In 1997, the citizens of Newfoundland voted to abolish this system. Quebec has also changed its church-run school system.

  Did you know?
Canada’s first school was founded in Trois Rivières in 1616. Laval University is Canada’s oldest university. It traces its roots to the Jesuit Seminary of Laval, established in 1663.