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Canada - Secondary Education

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceCanada - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education


The Jesuits founded the first secondary institution in Canada. Its curriculum was closely based on Jesuit colleges in Europe.

High schools in Canada actually were modifications of grammar schools. They were late taking hold in Canada, not finding supportive voices among educators until the mid and late 1860s. By the 1870s, high schools in Ontario would prove to be the model for future secondary schools in Canada. Just as common schools became known as public schools in that era, so too were grammar schools known always as high schools in Canada. The high schools by then offered a sophisticated collegiate curriculum, although the percentage of students attending college would not increase substantially until the twentieth century.

Similar to elementary schools, Canada's secondary schools fall under the governance of elected school boards at the local level. Board members establish guidelines for budgets and teacher employment. They are responsible to the province's department of education regarding curriculum matters.

In Canada, students for the most part pursue one of two high school tracks. One track serves the interests of students intending to attend a university. The other track is more geared to students that will enter the workforce after either education or who will do so after getting additional training in a vocational or technology school or from a community college. Remedial programs meet the needs of students having difficulty with their high school studies.

In enrollment at the secondary level in Canada, 2,292,497 pupils were enrolled during the 1990 to 1991 academic year. Of that total, by gender breakdown, 1,118,112 were female. During the 1995 to 1996 academic year, 2,505,389 pupils were enrolled for a slight increase. Female students represented 1,218,403 of that total.

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