2.C Settlement and Integration
C.6 How is education treated?
(iii) What requirements must sponsored refugees meet to enroll in primary, secondary, and post-secondary institutions?
How Canada Does It
Primary and secondary education is compulsory for children until they turn sixteen or eighteen (depending on the province) or until they achieve their secondary school diploma. To enroll children in public elementary or secondary schools, refugees must provide proof of child’s age, address, guardianship, immigration status and immunization record. Depending on their language capabilities, children may be enrolled in specialized classes to improve their language skills before transitioning to regular classes.
To access post-secondary institutions, individuals must typically have a high school diploma or the equivalent, and meet specific program requirements such as prerequisite classes and minimum grade point averages. Post-secondary institutions charge tuition, which varies by province, and type of institution and program. There are a number of initiatives, scholarships, and bursaries offered by universities, colleges, and other organizations to help qualified refugees access post-secondary education.
Education is compulsory until the age of eighteen in Ontario, New Brunswick, and Manitoba, and until the age of sixteen in the rest of the provinces and territories, or until children achieve their secondary school diploma. In Quebec, children are required to have a strong grasp of French before entering the public school system. Specialized bridging programs are available to ensure refugees and other immigrants gain language skills before starting regular classes. An example is the Literacy Enrichment Academic Program (LEAP) implemented by the Toronto District School Board, or the Literacy, English and Academic Development (LEAD) program implemented by the Calgary Board of Education. These are specialized, intensified language courses for refugee children before integrating them into regular classes.
Some adult education opportunities may require a language assessment, including government-funded English programs, and colleges, universities and professional licensing bodies. Refugees must have foreign education credentials assessed to determine their equivalence in the Canadian post-secondary education system. Organizations like the International Credentials Assessment Service and World Education Service help evaluate foreign-earned credentials and compare them to requirements of Canadian post-secondary schools.
Through services funded via Canada’s Settlement Program, and delivered by settlement service provider organizations, settlement workers help refugees in determining a plan to obtain further credentials. These services include helping refugee access language training and identifying appropriate skills training (e.g. computer skills training). Adult refugees lacking secondary school credentials may prepare for the General Educational Development (GED) test to obtain a high school diploma.