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Education in Canada - Statistics & Facts

The education system in Canada, like many countries, consists of primary schooling, secondary schooling, and postsecondary schooling. School attendance is mandatory until the age of 16 in all provinces except for Manitoba, Ontario, and New Brunswick where the required age is 18. Kindergarten is available to children when they turn four in Ontario and Quebec and when they turn five everywhere else. The school year generally runs from August through June of the following year. Postsecondary schooling is split between colleges, where one typically goes to receive vocational training, and universities, for those pursuing a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate degree. There is no federal education department or educational system: the provincial governments manage and oversee public education within the provinces at all levels of education and receive funding from the local, provincial and federal governments. French immersion programs are offered in most places throughout the provinces as Canada is officially a bilingual country.

Nationally, Canada performs better than the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average in all graduation numbers. In 2020, the share of adults in Canada with at least a minimum of high school education was around 92 percent. Canada also led the world in 2020 in percentage of the adult population that had a tertiary education (a bachelor’s degree or higher) with around 64 percent of those aged 25 to 34 years with a tertiary education. On the provincial and territorial level, British Columbia scored the highest on percentage of the population with at least a secondary education in 2020, while Nunavut had the lowest share of the adult population with a high school diploma.

Education spending has been trending upward with the total national spending by Canadian school boards for 2018 at 66.97 billion Canadian dollars, a significant increase since 2000. As of 2018, the largest budget item was instruction and education services, accounting for over 47.3 billion Canadian dollars of the budget. Annual tuition fees for undergraduate degree programs in Canada were rising as well, but still remained well below the rates of their southern neighbor the United States. The average annual tuition for an undergraduate program nationwide was 6,693 Canadian dollars for the 2021-2022 school year. Despite the rising cost of postsecondary education, it still proves to be a valuable investment for Canadians. The unemployment rate for adults with only a high school diploma was 12.9 percent in 2020, compared to a rate of 6.7 percent among those with a university education.

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