Education has two main goals: to give individuals the opportunity to develop themselves, and to provide society with the skills it needs to evolve in its best interests. Canada’s educational system is based on finding a coordinated approach to the pursuit of these sometimes conflicting goals. Comprehensive, diversified, and available to everyone, the system reflects the Canadian belief in the importance of education. Education in Canada consists of 10 provincial and two territorial systems, including public schools, “separate” (i. e. , denominational) schools, and private schools.
Children are required by law to attend school from the age of 6 or 7 until they are 15 or 16. To make it possible to fulfil this obligation, all non-private education through secondary (or “high”) school is publicly funded. In Quebec, general and vocational colleges (CEGEPs, or Colleges d’enseignement gnral et professionnel) are also publicly funded and require only a minimal registration fee. Most other post-secondary schools, however, charge tuition fees. A provincial responsibility Unlike many other industrialized countries, Canada has no federal educational system: the Constitution vested the exclusive responsibility for education in the rovinces.
Each provincial system, while similar to the others, reflects its particular region, history, and culture. 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 schools is delegated to local elected school boards or commissions. The boards set budgets, hire and negotiate with teachers, and shape school curriculums within provincial guidelines. A broad federal role The federal government plays an indirect but vital role in education.
It provides financial support for post-secondary education, labour market 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. Overall, the federal government pays over one-fifth of Canada’s yearly educational bill. One important part of this contribution is the Canada Student Loans Program, which assists students who do not have sufficient resources to pursue their studies.
The program provides loan 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. Another federal initiative, scheduled to take effect in the year 2000, is Canada Millennium Scholarships. Through an initial endowment of $2. 5 billion, this program will provide scholarships to more than 100,000 students each year over 10 years. This represents the largest single investment the federal government has ever made in support of universal access to post-secondary education.
Scholarships will average $3,000 a year, and individuals can receive up to $15,000 over a maximum of four academic years. These scholarships could halve the debt load that recipients would otherwise face. Elementary and secondary schools About five million children now attend public schools in Canada 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 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 conventional courses of study. In most provinces, individual schools now set, conduct and mark their own examinations. In some provinces, however, students must pass a graduation examination in certain key subjects in order to proceed 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. Some provinces have legislation that permits the establishment of separate schools by religious groups. Mostly Roman Catholic, separate schools, which in 1995 accounted for about one-fourth of Canada’s public school enrolment, offer a complete parochial curriculum from kindergarten through the secondary level in some provinces. Private or independent schools have a current enrolment of over a quarter of a million students, and offer a great variety of curriculum options based on religion, anguage, or academic status.
Teacher training Canada’s elementary and secondary education systems employ close to 300,000 full-time teachers. Their professional training generally includes at least four or five years of study (a Bachelor of Education degree normally requires university graduation plus one year of educational studies). Teachers are licensed by the provincial departments of education. Post-Secondary education For most of Canada’s history, post-secondary education was provided almost exclusively by its universities. 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 enrolment mushroomed, systems of publicly operated post-secondary non-university institutions began to develop. Today in Canada, some 200 technical institutes and community colleges complement about 100 universities, attracting a total post-secondary enrolment of approximately 1 million. Student fees, owing to substantial government subsidies, account for only about 11% of the cost of Canadian post-secondary education. Canada’s universities are internationally known for the quality of their teaching and esearch.
Examples include the neurological breakthroughs of Wilder Penfield at McGill University and the discovery of insulin at the University of Toronto by Frederick Banting, C. H. Best, J. J. R. Macleod, and J. B. Collip. Full-time enrolment in Canadian universities stands at over half a million, with enrolments at individual institutions ranging from less than a 1,000 to over 35,000. Women are well represented in the universities: they receive more than half of all degrees conferred. Canada’s school system: a national asset The Canadian belief in education is general and deep.
And this belief is reflected in a considerable financial commitment: Canada ranks among the world’s leaders in per capita spending on public education. Canada maintains this level of investment because it continues to generate healthy returns. Almost everywhere, the quality of education is directly related to the quality of life. In Canada, the high educational level (almost half the population over the age of 15 now has some post-secondary schooling) has proven to be a powerful contributor to the country’s favourable standard of living, its growth of opportunity, and its reputation as a place where ntellectual accomplishment is fostered and profitably pursued.
Canada Canada’s Landmass Canada is the world’s second-largest country (9 970 610 km2), surpassed only by the Russian Federation. Capital Ottawa, in the province of Ontario. Provinces and Territories Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories, each with its own capital city (in brackets): Alberta (Edmonton); British Columbia (Victoria); Prince Edward Island (Charlottetown); Manitoba (Winnipeg); New Brunswick (Fredericton); Nova Scotia (Halifax); Nunavut (Iqaluit); Ontario (Toronto); Quebec (Quebec City); Saskatchewan (Regina); Newfoundland (St. John’s); Northwest Territories (Yellowknife); and Yukon Territory (Whitehorse).
Geography Diversity is the keynote of Canada’s geography, which includes fertile plains suitable for agriculture, vast mountain ranges, lakes and rivers. Wilderness forests give way to Arctic tundra in the Far North. Climate There are many climatic variations in this huge country, ranging from the permanently frozen icecaps north of the 70th parallel to the luxuriant vegetation of British Columbia’s west coast. Canada’s most populous regions, which lie in the country’s south along the U. S. border, enjoy four distinct seasons.
Here daytime ummer temperatures can rise to 35C and higher, while lows of -25C are not uncommon in winter. More moderate temperatures are the norm in spring and fall. Parks and Historic Sites Canada maintains 38 national parks, which cover about 2% of the country’s landmass. Banff, located on the eastern slopes of Alberta’s Rocky Mountains, is the oldest (est. 1885); Tuktut Nogait, in the Northwest Territories, was established in 1996. There are 836 national historic sites, designated in honor of people, places and events that figure in the country’s history. Canada also has over 1000 provincial parks and nearly 50 territorial parks.
Mountain Ranges Canada’s terrain incorporates a number of mountain ranges: the Torngats, Appalachians and Laurentians in the east; the Rocky, Coastal and Mackenzie ranges in the west; and Mount St. Elias and the Pelly Mountains in the north. At 6050 m, Mount Logan in the Yukon is Canada’s tallest peak. Lakes There are some two million lakes in Canada, covering about 7. 6% of the Canadian landmass. The main lakes, in order of the surface area located in Canada (many large lakes are traversed by the Canada-U. S. border), are Huron, Great Bear, Superior, Great Slave, Winnipeg, Erie and Ontario.
The largest lake situated entirely in Canada is Great Bear Lake (31 326 km2) in the Northwest Territories. Rivers The St. Lawrence (3058 km long) is Canada’s most important river, providing a seaway for ships from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The longest Canadian river is the Mackenzie, which flows 4241 km through the Northwest Territories. Other large watercourses include the Yukon and the Columbia (parts of which flow through U. S. territory), the Nelson, the Churchill, and the Fraser–along with major tributaries such as the Saskatchewan, the Peace, the Ottawa, the Athabasca, and the
Liard. Time Zones Canada has six time zones. The easternmost, in Newfoundland, is three hours and 30 minutes behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). The other time zones are the Atlantic, the Eastern, the Central, the Rocky Mountain and, farthest west, the Pacific, which is eight hours behind GMT. Political System Canada is a constitutional monarchy and a federal state with a democratic parliament. The Parliament of Canada, in Ottawa, consists of the House of Commons, whose members are elected, and the Senate, whose members are appointed. On average, members of Parliament are elected every four years.
Charter of Rights and Freedoms Canada’s constitution contains a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which sets out certain fundamental freedoms and rights that neither Parliament nor any provincial legislature acting alone can change. These include equality rights, mobility rights, and legal rights, together with freedoms such as speech, association, and peaceful assembly. National Emblem The maple leaf has been associated with Canada for some time: in 1868, it figured in coats of arms granted to Ontario and Quebec; and in both world wars, it appeared on regimental badges.
Since the 1965 introduction of the Canadian flag, the maple leaf has become the country’s most important symbol. The Canadian Flag Several people participated in designing the Canadian flag. Jacques St. Cyr contributed the stylized maple leaf, George Bist the proportions, and Dr. Gunter Wyszechi the colouration. The final determination of all aspects of the new flag was made by a 15-member parliamentary committee, which is formally credited with the design. After lengthy debate, the new flag was adopted by Parliament. It officially became the national flag on February 15, 1965, now recognized as Canada’s Flag Day.