Education in Canada is a provincial responsibility and each province decides about the length of each educational level as well as the curriculum to be taught. Most provinces have three levels of education:
- Elementary (Grades 1 to 8)
- Secondary (Grades 9 to 12)
- Tertiary (Colleges and Universities)
There are two years of Junior Kindergarten (age 5) and Senior Kindergarten (age 6) prior to the Elementary School.
Most schools in Canada are established and run by the government of the province where the school is located. Public schools in Canada are reputed for the excellent education they provide. Many Canadian public schools are now accepting international students into their programs. Almost all public schools are co-educational and offer day programs only. Many school boards offer secular or non-religious education while others have religious affiliations. However, this varies from province to province. Policies on accepting international students and the fees charged vary from district to district.
Private schools exist in every province and provide an attractive alternative for families seeking an overseas education for their children. Many of Canada's business and political leaders are graduates of well-established private schools. All private schools must be registered with the Ministry of Education in their province or territory and must meet the curriculum and other standards set by their respective ministries. Families can choose schools that are boys-only, girls-only or co-educational. Some private schools offer full boarding programs, others are day schools, and many offer both. Many private schools adhere to a particular religious faith, emphasize particular moral teachings and, apply rigorous academic standards.
Canada has two official languages, meaning that international students can come to Canada to study either English as a Second Language (ESL) or French as a Second Language (FSL).
Many people choose to study ESL in Canada because of the many excellent ESL schools across the country and because of the neutral Canadian accent. Over the years, Canada has developed considerable expertise in the teaching of ESL because so many immigrants have required upgrading of their English skills. International students can study ESL for general, business or specific purposes. In addition, students can receive training in the teaching of ESL. Almost all universities and community colleges have ESL programs. In general, most private ESL schools are very flexible in terms of program requirements and intake dates.
FSL programs are offered both through private and public institutes. Most, but not all FSL schools are located in the province of Québec. Similar to ESL programs, students can usually enter a FSL school program at any time of the year for any length of study.
Students enrolled in ESL or FSL programs for up to six months may study in Canada on a visitor's visa. However, for longer periods of study in Canada, you will need a Study Permit. Study Permit is an authorization to study in Canada usually issued by a visa office outside of Canada. Even if you may not be required to have a Temporary Resident Visa to travel to Canada, for studying in Canada, you may need a Study Permit.
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