The education system in British Columbia covers elementary, secondary and post-secondary education. Education throughout Canada is governed by each provincial and territorial government, so there are slight differences between each province's education system.
With the exception of Quebec, all provinces provide universal, free elementary and secondary schooling for 12 years. Education is compulsory to the age of between 15 and 18, depending on the province: in British Columbia, education is compulsory to the age of 16.
Elementary: Children usually enter kindergarten at age 5. Elementary school generally includes grades 1 through 6 in regions that then have 2 years of middle school or junior high school, and in areas without these, elementary school goes up to grade 8.
Secondary: Secondary school--usually called high school--encompasses grades 9 through 12. In regions without middle school and junior high, it also includes grades 7 and 8.
Post-secondary: Post-secondary education in British Columbia includes career college (also known as vocational school), community college, university and grad school.
Language programs: Language programs (English or French as a second language) are offered at middle schools, high schools, colleges, universities and private language schools throughout British Columbia. You can read more on these school types in the appropriate sections of this website.
School districts: British Columbia is divided into 59 public school districts, which in turn have school boards (elected officials) that implement policy and provincial curriculum. A school district usually serves one or more cities or towns, depending on their size.
Religious affiliation: Schools in British Columbia can be secular (no religious affiliation), Catholic or Christian (various Protestant denominations). Some provinces have separate school boards for religious and non-religious schools.
Public and private: British Columbia's education system includes public schools, which are free and funded by the government, and private schools, for which students have to pay. At the post-secondary level, public colleges and universities still require students to pay tuition, but it is substantially less than tuition at private universities.