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, universities and university colleges.
Education is a provincial responsibility under the Canadian constitution, which means there are significant differences between the education systems of the different provinces. However, education is important to Canadians, and standards across the country are uniformly high.
In general, Canadian children attend kindergarten for one or two years at the age of four or five on a voluntary basis. All children begin Grade One at about six years of age. The school year normally runs from September through the following June but in some instances, January intake dates are possible. Secondary schools go up to Grades 11 or 12, depending on the province. From there, students may attend university, college or Cégep studies. Cégep is a French acronym for College of General and Vocational Education, and is two years of general or three years of technical education between high school and university. The province of Québec has the Cégep system.
Canada is now the most educated country in the world, according to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a 34-nation group based in Paris, France.
The report titled EDUCATION AT A GLANCE 2011, notes that Canada is the one country where 50 per cent of the population have completed post-secondary education, followed by Isreal ( 45 per cent) and Japan ( 44 percent).
Other countrues in the Top 10 bracket and the percentages of their citizens with post-secondary education are: United States ( 41 per cent), New Zealand ( 40 Per cent) and South Korea ( 39 Per cent). Norway, United Kingdom, Australia and Finland run neck and neck with 37 per cent of their citizens having attained post- secondary education.
The report states that the best countries that invest the most in education have the most- educated people. All of the 10 best-educated countries, except for the UK, also fall within the top 15 OECD countries spending the most on tertiary ( that is, college or college-equivalent) education as a percentatge of their Gross Domestic Product( GDP). Canada, which now has the highest percentage of citizens who have completed post-secondary education, devotes 41 per cent of its education budget to tertiary education. In the U.S, the proportion is closer to 37 per cent.
Perhaps most importantly, the report reaffirms the age-old axiom that knowledge is wealth. It states thatthe countries with the most highly educated citizens are also among the wealthiest in the world. The United States, Japan and Canada are among the countries with the largest GDPs per capita, respectively.
Finally, the report point out that, in Canada, nearly 25 per cent of students have an immigrant background, a reflection of the country's open door policy towards international students.