The Canadian education system explained to the French

Education

Since 1867, education has been one of the exclusive jurisdictions of each of the 10 provinces and 3 territories that make up Canada. This is why several different educational systems coexist on Canadian soil, with an end age for compulsory schooling ranging from 16 to 18, depending on the province.

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Primary and secondary
Canada is very well placed in the latest OECD Pisa ranking of 2018, which ranks the level of 15-year-old children, taking 6th place. The school year generally runs from September to June, with days sometimes a little shorter than in France, ending at 3 or 4 p.m. Public school is free, and depending on the province, compulsory education begins no later than the year of 5 or 6 years. A year of kindergarten, or preschool, which is not compulsory, is followed by 12 years, from 1st to 12th. Secondary begins in 9th – except in Quebec where secondary begins in 7th and ends in 11th. Primary therefore lasts 8 years in Canada, except in Quebec where it lasts 6 years. The school year runs from the end of August to the end of June, with classes every day of the week, Monday to Friday, Wednesday included. As in France, holidays take place every 6 to 7 weeks of classes.

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Graduate studies: no competition
At the end of high school, at the age of 17 or 18 on average, young Canadians who continue their studies enter a university, a college or even, in Quebec, a CEGEP (college of general and vocational education). Quebec CEGEPs offer two types of courses, with 2-year pre-university training, which prepares for entry to university, and 3-year technical training, more professionalizing, like our BTS and BUT.

Canadian universities are divided between French-speaking establishments (mostly in Quebec), and English-speaking establishments. The organization of higher education distinguishes between the first cycle (undergraduate studies) and the second cycle (postgraduate studies). In the first cycle, students prepare for the equivalent of the European license, called a bachelor’s degree (baccalauréat in Quebec). The bachelor’s degrees at Canadian universities last 3 years, the Quebec baccalaureate, 4 years. After their bachelor’s or baccalaureate, young Canadians can continue their studies with a master’s degree or a master’s degree, in 1 or 2 years, then a doctorate or a Phd, in 3 or 5 years.

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There are no great schools in Canada
Last particularity that strongly distinguishes the Canadian higher education system from the French system: there is no equivalent of our grandes écoles in Canada – the universities are the grandes écoles. Engineers, executives, lawyers, magistrates, doctors, journalists, etc., are all trained in universities. Similarly, future students are not selected by competition, but by file, on the basis of their academic results. According to the various international rankings, the 3 best universities in Canada are those of Toronto, of British Columbia (UBC), in Vancouver, and McGill in Montreal.

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McGill University in Montreal where nearly 2,000 French students study
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