The educational system in Canada is derived from the British and American traditions and the French tradition, the latter particularly in the province of Quebec. English or French is the language of instruction, and some schools provide instruction in both official languages. Each of the ten provinces has responsibility for establishing and maintaining its own school system. In Quebec, the French-Canadian tradition is followed by the Roman Catholic schools. The province also maintains Protestant schools, however, which are widely attended. Although Canada does not have a central ministry of education, the federal government provides schools for First Nations children, inmates of federal penitentiaries, and the children of military personnel in Europe.
The earliest Canadian schools, which were conducted by French Catholic religious orders, date from the early 17th century. Higher education was inaugurated in 1635 with the founding of the Collège des Jésuites in the city of Quebec. It was not until the transfer of Canada from French to British jurisdiction in 1763 that an educational system began to emerge that encompassed Church, governmental, and private secular schools.
The early 19th century saw the establishment of the large universities, beginning with McGill University (in Montreal) in 1821 and followed by the University of Ottawa in 1848 and the University of Toronto in 1850. Since 1945, a notable expansion in higher education has occurred. Many new institutions have been founded, and the older universities have increased in size, scope, and influence.
The federal and provincial governments fund the university system in Canada, and students pay only a small portion of the cost. Universities are still the predominant institutions offering higher education, but the number of non-university post-secondary institutions, particularly community colleges, has increased sharply in recent decades. In 1994, 7.6 per cent of the national budget was spent on education.
Education is generally compulsory for children from ages 6 or 7 to ages 15 or 16, depending on the province in which they live, and it is free until the completion of secondary school studies. In the early 1990s Canada had more than 16,000 elementary and secondary schools, with a total enrolment of nearly 5.3 million pupils. In the early 1990s Canada maintained 19 specialized schools for visually impaired and hearing-impaired people, with an enrolment of about 2,300 pupils. Canada has several schools for developmentally disabled children.
In the early 1990s Canada had 69 degree-granting universities and colleges, which together enrolled some 573,200 full-time students. Among the country’s larger universities are the following: the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary, in Alberta; the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia; the University of Manitoba; the University of Moncton and the University of New Brunswick, in New Brunswick; Memorial University of Newfoundland; Acadia University and Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia; Carleton University, McMaster University, the University of Ottawa, the University of Toronto, the University of Waterloo, and York University, in Ontario; the University of Prince Edward Island; Concordia University, Laval University, McGill University, the University of Montreal, and the University of Quebec, in Quebec; and the University of Saskatchewan. "Canada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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