Everything a migrant parent should know when enrolling a child in a Canadian school

Everything a migrant parent should know when enrolling a child in a Canadian school
Canada is among the most welcoming countries in the world. Coming in fourth to China, Germany, and the UK (according to Amnesty International’s survey on admitting refugees), the Great White North has the most unique and aggressive immigration policy that continues to attract people from various parts of the globe.
 Its education system is as equally commendable since Canada currently ranks 5th in the latest OECD global education report and 2nd in US News’s Best Countries report for the same category (and actually topping in almost every category). Surely, it’s the reason a lot of parents want a Canadian visa for their children. Who doesn’t want a slice of quality education for their kids?
However, immigrant parents must understand how the education system works in Canada. It can be a bit confusing at first, especially if they’re from a country where schooling is centralized or run by the national government.  
The Canadian education system
All public schools in the country are provincially government-funded, which means there isn’t a single federal government-funded educational institution in the country. This unique, decentralized scheme explains why there’s no single policy for education in Canada. It’s each provincial and territorial governments’ sole responsibility to design a school system that fits their region. So you might not see the exact same policies and procedures Alberta, British Columbia or Ontario.
What makes all provincial education policies across the country the substantially the same is the period they allocate for compulsory education. Universal schooling is enforced and given for free in all provinces for 12 years, with the exception of Quebec which is for 11 years. 
  • Elementary education typically consists of Grades 1 through 6, with 2 years of middle school or junior high School. For other provinces, elementary school goes all the way up to Grade 8. As for Quebec, it marks Grade 6 as the end of elementary school.
  •  Secondary education, called simply “high school,” consists mostly of Grades 9 to 12. In provinces with middle or junior high school exists, it refers to Grades 7 and 8 as part of secondary education. Quebec’s secondary education covers Grades 7 through 11, but students are still routed to various Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel, (CEGEPs) prior to university level education, which are publicly funded pre‑university colleges exclusive to the province or technical trade schools. 
  • Post-secondary education is generally the next step of schooling after the secondary education but not compulsory. Depending on the location, cash-strapped students can obtain a college or university degree for as low as $2,768, which many foreign journalists see as “virtually free.”
 Most children begin school at the age of 5 or 6 and finish the mandatory education at 18 or 19. Basically, Pre-school or Kindergarten is for children aged between 2 to 5, Elementary for kids aged 6 to 12, Junior High school for ages 12 to 14, and Senior High School for ages 15 to 18. 
School Terms
Most schools here adhere to the trimester rule (autumn/fall, spring, summer), and each term is divided into two term breaks. Basically, trimester terms go something like this, but slight variations could occur depending on the province. Nevertheless, in English-speaking Canada, some high schools adhere to the two-semester arrangement. The first term (fall/autumn), just like in the US, starts from the first day after Labour Day in September and ends in the second or third week of January. The second term (spring), begins in the first week of February until the last Friday of June. Quebec and French-speaking regions of Ontario have a more complex system, in which they adhere to a customized timetable that would allow them to end classes before the St-Jean-Baptiste day celebration, a traditional holiday celebrated on the 24th of June.
  • Autumn/Fall Term- starts Thursday 01 September 2016 through until Friday 21 October 2016 and resumes on Monday 31 October 2016 through to Friday 16 December 2016.
  • Spring Term- begins Tuesday 03 January 2017 and goes through until Friday 10 February 2017 then resumes on Monday 20 February 2017 through to Friday 31 March.
  • Summer Term - starts on Tuesday 18 April 2017 and runs through until Friday 26 May 2017, and resumes on Monday 05 June through to Wednesday 26 July 2017.
Attracting foreign students and migrants
Family reunification and multiculturalism have always been cornerstones and key objectives in Canadian Immigration Policies. One of the current administration’s many promises was to make the country’s immigration policies more reunification-centric and family-friendly. Among the first steps undertaken by the Trudeau government was the simplification of certain rules with regards to the issuance of student visas and faster processing of family sponsorship visas.
More recently, the new appointment of Mr. Ahmed Hussen, a former Somali refugee, to the role of Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship (IRCC) has allowed a recent migrant himself to this important role. It is expected that this new pro-immigration minister will further reinforce and support current efforts to welcome newcomers and simplify visa application processes for all migrants and visa holders including children and adults seeking to take advantage of Canada's world renowned educational options and opportunities which can lead to permanent residency in Canada. 
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