I recently asked my graduate students to compare Canada’s education system with that of another country using data from the latest OECD report. Erica Fisher, an elementary teacher from the Toronto District School Board decided to compare education in the UK with that in Canada. The results may surprise you. I reprint her synthesis and analysis here with her generous permission.
|Age Kindergarten begins (not compulsory)||3 years old||4 or 5 years old|
|Compulsory education begins||5 years old||6 years old|
|Compulsory education ends||16-18 years old||16-18 years old|
|% of 24-64 year olds with only a high school education||17.8%||6.9%|
Two things stand out from the data above. (1) Despite a longer duration in school, students in the UK fared less well on the 2015 PISA than Canadian students. In fact, Canada ranked in the top 10 countries for all three subjects. (2) Students from the UK are twice as likely to end their education at the high school level than Canadian students. I feel this is due in part to the large number of minorities who come to Canada for a better life. As parents, they push their children to go on to complete university and get good jobs. This influences the collective mentality of Canadian students towards valuing post secondary education. The large degree of diversity in Canadian schools, particularly in large cities such as Vancouver and Toronto mean that Canadian educators need to incorporate strategies that promote success for all students such as differentiated instruction, strategies to support second language learners, and Universal Design for learning.
I was quite surprised by the data. I had always felt that the United Kingdom had a superior education system to ours. Upon reflection, I think my perceptions were a consequence of colonialism and the power that I attributed to the UK. I automatically assumed that their educational system was superior to that of Canada. This was a very beneficial activity for me in that it allowed me to appreciate and value our system of education.