I found it really interesting to read about Canada’s system of education in the text. Although I already knew a lot of this information, I also never really considered it before. Canada’s system of education is highly decentralized at a national level but is centralized within each province and territory. This means that each province/territory controls its own education system. On a federal level, the government deals with such issues as the equalization of funding between the provinces/territories (Barakett & Cleghorn, 2008, p. 19).
Even though Canada’s system is decentralized and each province has a separate system of education, according to Barakett and Cleghorn (2008), they are remarkably similar (p. 18). One possible reason for this is to allow students to move around Canada without being behind or ahead of their classmates. In other words, most provinces agree on what a child should learn by each grade level. If a child were to move from another country however, they may be significantly behind or ahead of their peers.
The unique structure of the education system in Canada has some advantages and disadvantages in my mind. First of all, I think that is it good that each province/territory is in charge of its own system of education. The ministry of education of each system in Canada can determine what is important in their education system and can focus on issues that are significant to their area. On the other hand, one area that surprised me was the teaching time spent in schools. Because our system is decentralized on a large scale, the amount of time spent teaching varies greatly from province to province. Specifically, Ontario is considerably lower than other provinces at ~3.75 hours per day. This is just one example of the difference between provinces.
Because I went to school in Saskatchewan and now am doing my post-secondary in Alberta, I notice a lot of differences between our school systems – especially being in the education faculty. I will admit that I really didn’t know what diploma exams and provincial achievement tests were all about until I moved here. A lot of Alberta students don’t realize this but in Saskatchewan we don’t have to do those. As a teacher in Saskatchewan, you can achieve a type of certification that allows you to write your own finals. Therefore, every final exam I wrote in high school was written by my teacher. When I found out that in Alberta you had to write a standardized test worth 50% of your mark in grade 12, I thought it sounded ridiculous – no offense Alberta! After I got into the education faculty, it seemed as though that was all anyone talked about. It seems like such a huge issue here, whereas in Saskatchewan it isn’t. I find that really interesting because we are right beside each other! That is yet another example of a difference.
Is it a good idea to allow these differences between provinces or should we be more centralized across the country?