Why Choose Canada for Your High School Experience?
Wed, 09 May 2018
Over the last 10 years, Canada’s popularity as a high school abroad destination has steadily grown. From British Columbia in the west to the provinces of the Atlantic coast, Canada annually hosts tens of thousands of students from overseas on high school programmes. When these students return home, they tell their friends about their experience, generating ever greater waves of interest in Canadian schools. So what’s behind this trend? Why are so many students choosing Canada when faced with more traditional options for schooling in an English-speaking country, such as the UK and the US? We think we know why.
HIGH EDUCATIONAL STANDARDS
First and foremost, international students have discovered an important fact: Canada has one of the best education systems in the world, consistently ranked number one among English-speaking countries, and in the top 10 overall. Test results for reading, mathematics and science in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) show that Canada’s significant investments in its public education system over the past two decades are paying off. These impressive test scores have established Canada as a global leader in education planning and development.
Investments in public education take many forms, including infrastructure upgrades. Provincial Governments across the country have prioritized creating clean and comfortable learning spaces equipped with the latest technology and teaching tools. This is especially obvious in the many “special interest” classes found in Canadian public schools. It is not uncommon, for example, to find schools with complete professional teaching kitchens, computer labs equipped with 3D printers and advanced robotics, or digital media labs with green screens, state-of-the-art video cameras and digital editing software. School Boards across the country incorporate the latest research on the link between physical space and learning when designing new schools and retrofitting older ones.
Even more significant investments, however, have been made in the pedagogy itself, and these have driven dramatic improvements in test scores and learning outcomes for students over the past 20 years. Canadian public school teachers are exceptionally well-trained, usually with a minimum of two university degrees. This rigorous approach to teacher preparation means Canadian teachers have comprehensive training at a level not found in many other countries. Teachers are encouraged to continually upgrade their knowledge and skills well after graduation, with life-long additional qualifications and skills courses to help them grow in their careers. Well-compensated financially, our teachers are motivated to get involved in academic planning and innovation, a method proven to vastly improve learning outcomes and the overall student experience.
Canadian education places a strong emphasis on holistic education and preparing students for the real world. In addition to traditional subjects, students are expected learn about global citizenship, the importance of the arts, and the value of team sports, to name just a few. To graduate from high school, students are required to volunteer in their communities to understand the role volunteering plays in nurturing a caring and compassionate society. Canadian educators recognize that school is about much more than just preparing workers; our duty in 21st century schooling is increasingly to create well-rounded, innovative, critically thinking citizens who will lead us to a more just, sustainable, and equitable world community.
RESPECT OF DIVERSITY
International students in Canada encounter both a country and an education system that highly values their knowledge and input, and genuinely welcomes them into the fabric of Canadian life. A deep and enduring respect for multiculturalism is truly a “Canadian value”. Canadians generally believe that diversity is a strength; that there is something to learn from opposing viewpoints rather than something to be conformed. Nowhere is this more vivid than in the old saying that Canada is a “cultural mosaic”, an idea that stands in stark contrast to the U.S.A. vision of itself as a “cultural melting pot”. As a result, international students find that their presence in schools is highly valued. Their opinions and perspectives are sought out, and there is a firm belief that Canadian students learn as much from them as they do from their time in Canada. Students from overseas encounter schools that have excellent support systems in place for them, from resources to help improve their English/French, to clearly identified members of the administration responsible for their success. Schools are flexible and understanding about differences in language and subject competency, and will work with international students to ensure a successful experience. In short, international students in Canadian public schools are treated with respect and are genuinely considered full and valuable members of the community.
For parents, safety is of course one of the most important factors when considering where to send their child for high school abroad, and Canada is widely recognized as one of the safest countries in the world. Low crime rates combine with an unparalleled conscientiousness about safety and public order to create a secure setting and critical peace of mind for parents. Clean, safe and modern public infrastructure makes for a stress-free and highly stimulating experience. Many students report that they can feel it as soon as they arrive, this pervasive sense of safety that permeates Canadian society, from coast to coast. From incredible natural beauty to culturally vibrant cities and towns, as a country, Canada has a lot to offer international students. Students in the east have the opportunity to see how two distinct founding cultures have managed to harmoniously coexist for hundreds of years while mastering the challenges of the physical environment. Students in the west encounter truly breathtaking mountain vistas just hours from worldclass cities and modern amenities. No matter where in Canada they study, international students can expect to encounter people curious about who they are and what we can learn from them, while sharing the best of what we Canadians have to offer the world.
So what are you waiting for? Time to find out for yourself what all the fuss is about!