The Canadian education system covers elementary, secondary and post-secondary education. Education in Canada is governed by each provincial and territorial government, so there are slight differences between the education systems in each province and territory. For instance, the grades at which each level begins and ends vary. All provinces and territories provide universal, free elementary and secondary schooling for 12 years, with the exception of Quebec where it is for 11 years. Education is compulsory to the age of between 15 and 18, depending on the province.

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. In Quebec, elementary school is grades 1-6, and students then go straight into high school.

Secondary: Secondary school-most often called high school-typically includes grades 9 through 12. In regions with middle school and junior high, it also includes grades 7 and 8. In Quebec, high school covers grades 7 through 11, and students then go to CEGEP for 2 years before applying to university.

Post-secondary: Post-secondary education 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.

You can read more on these school types in the appropriate sections of this website.

School districts: Provinces are divided into school districts, and school districts have school boards (elected officials) which implement policy and curriculum set out by the province. A school district usually serves one or more cities or towns, depending on their size.

Religious affiliation: In Canada, schools 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: Canada'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.