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British Columbia’s Education System

In Canada each Province and Territory has its own jurisdiction over education. Public education is free to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents aged less than 20 years. Parents are responsible for providing all the school supplies (notebooks, paper etc.), but school uniforms are not worn. Where band and sports uniforms are needed they will be the parent's responsibility. In BC students are legally required to attend school between the ages of 6 and 16 years.

Elementary & Secondary schooling is the responsibility of British Columbia's Ministry of Education, while the Ministry of Advanced Education, Training and Technology are responsible for post-secondary education.

The Ministry is committed to providing a high quality education for Kindergarten to Grade 12 children so they can develop their individual potential and acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes to contribute fully to society.

Definitely check your child's immunisation record as it may differ in Canada from the country you are leaving. Most schools encourage full participation of their students in the Provincial Immunization Programs.

The school year generally runs from the beginning of September through to the end of June. Most schools close for the months of June and July along with winter and spring breaks usually around Christmas and Easter.

Schooling is broken down into three areas; the primary years which cover Kindergarten to grade 3; the intermediate years – grades 4 to 10 and the graduation year's grades 11 and 12.
In BC to enter Kindergarten (the first year of school) children must have turned five by December 31st. In the Primary Years (5-9), students learn foundation skills in oral language, reading, writing and mathematics.

The Intermediate Years, from age 10 to 16 years, students learn from a wide variety of subjects. In grade 5 students must begin to study a second language. The students will also begin to take specialized courses towards their personal and career goals.

The graduation years, 17 and 18 years old, courses are focused on preparing students for Post Secondary education and entering the work force. Students can also earn credits towards their high school Graduation. With the Post secondary education expensive in most cases, it is imperative that you research Registered Education savings Plans as a way to save for your kid's education. The other main way to finance the education is to take out Student Loans.

Students Moving to BC

Students who are coming to British Columbia from a different school system should submit an official statement of previous standing, such as a report card, to the school that they want to enroll in. You should also have the previous school records and transcripts, copies of all the course outlines and content.

After considering a number of factors including the students age, records and test results they will be placed in the appropriate grade.


One of the most important things is to ensure your children are registered in time. Most facilities have limited registration "windows" that are typically several months before the school year starts. For instance in the Calgary area we have registered in February for the coming September. Contact the particular establishment for the precise details.

The public Post Secondary Education system in British Columbia consists of five universities, the Open Learning Agency, five institutions, eleven colleges and five university colleges.

The eleven colleges in British Columbia offer a wide variety of programs designed to meet the needs of the local communities. All offer courses in the four main fields of academic, career technical, voluntary and adult basic education – including English as a Second Language. In addition, these colleges offer a variety of community programs.

Also offering courses in career technical, vocational, adult based education and selected courses leading to a bachelor's degree are the five university colleges, these work in collaboration with the public universities.

The five Universities are: Royal Roads University, The University of Victoria (both on Vancouver Island), Simon Fraser University is in Burnaby, The University of British Columbia is in Vancouver and The University of Northern British Columbia is located in Prince George. These five universities of British Columbia provide the major degree of degree level education.

There are five institutions that provide specialized programs in technologies and trades, art and design, law enforcement, marine training, and indigenous studies. Four of these institutes are located in and around the vicinity of Vancouver; the fifth one is in Merritt which is close to Kamloops.

There are also Private Post Secondary institutes that offer a wide range of courses in British Columbia. The tuition fees will be considerably higher for these establishments.

Whilst on the subject of tuition fees, post secondary studies in Canada are NOT free. To help parents with the cost of tuition, the Canadian Government introduced Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).

The British Columbia Student Assistance Program is a joint program between the Federal and Provincial Government. This is available as a loan for eligible students to assist with the costs of post secondary studies at colleges, universities, institutions and private training institutions. These loans will have to be repaid after the course has finished!

Source by Dave Lympany

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