Generic placeholder imageEducation

  • Canada is ranked to have one of the best education systems in the world. Education in Canada is within provincial jurisdiction, so all schools in the province follow the same or similar curriculum. In Ontario, the department is called Ministry of Education. Education is divided into primary education (kindergarten to grade 8), secondary education (grades 9-12) and post-secondary education (colleges and universities). Each province has district school boards. Education is mandatory until the age of 16 in most provinces except Manitoba and New Brunswick, where the compulsory age is 18.

  • If you have questions regarding your education or exploring your career options, CUIAS settlement counselors are available to offer help, advice and guidance. The information below summarizes important points and links to websites that you will find useful.



  • Pre-School: Junior Kindergarten (JK), which begins at age 4 and Senior Kindergarten (SK), which includes children who are 5 years old up until December of that school year.

  • Elementary or Primary School: grades 1-8 (ages 6-13)

  • Secondary or High School: grades 9-12 (generally includes ages 14-18). However, high schools are open to all students 14- 21 years of age. For adult secondary school, please refer to our ‘Newcomer Adults’ section.

  • Post-secondary Education: Includes college or university programs and is open to students over the age of 18. has a variety of information about elementary school, including special education, extracurricular activities, immunization etc.

Publicly Funded Schools
  • Ontario has 4 publicly-funded school systems. Publicly-funded schools are managed by district school boards.
      ENGLISH PUBLIC – elementary and secondary schools, open to all students.
      ENGLISH CATHOLIC – elementary schools are open to students who are baptized as Roman Catholic and to children who have 1 or 2 Roman Catholic parents. Catholic secondary schools are open to all students, regardless of their religion.
      FRENCH PUBLIC – open to all students seeking a French language education.
      FRENCH CATHOLIC – open to all students seeking a French language education. For information on French language education, contact your local school board.


  • Depending on the school board, youth up until the age of 21 are allowed to attend secondary school. By law, children 16 years of age and under have the right to attend school, regardless of their or their parents’ immigration status.

  • The 2 main public school boards in Toronto are
    the Toronto District School Board and
    the Toronto Catholic District School Board


Private Schools
  • Private or independent schools also offer elementary and secondary education. These schools do not receive government funding, and students must pay to attend them. These schools may focus on religion, culture, language, or specific approaches to teaching. There are approximately 700 private schools in Ontario. Students may still obtain necessary credits from private schools. However, private school principals and teachers are not necessarily certified by the Ontario College of Teachers.

  • Private schools must meet the provincial curriculum expectations, and thus undergo inspection by the Ministry of Education. This inspection authorizes the principal to grant credits in subjects leading to the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD). Private secondary schools are authorized to grant credits only after a ministry inspection and this authority may be revoked following an inspection. The ministry does not inspect health, equipment, practices related to safety, or staffing issues.

  • For a list of private schools, including schools where credit-authorization has been revoked, click here


What do I need to Graduate High School in Ontario?
    To graduate from high school and receive an Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) students must:

    • Earn 30 credits – 18 credits are compulsory. This means that students must take these 18 courses from a list of required subjects, such as Math and English. The remaining 12 credits are optional. Students choose their optional courses from the full range of courses that their school offers, such as IT or music etc.

    • Pass the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) or Ontario Secondary School Literacy Course (OSSLC).

    • Complete 40 hours of community service (volunteer work).

    • The high school program is based on a credit system. Students get 1 credit for every 110-hour course successfully completed.


What if I do not know English?

  • If you need to learn English, you can take ESL courses in high school, in addition to your other courses, that contribute to your total credits. There are 5 ESL levels. A is the lowest and E is the highest. After level E, students must take grade 11 English and grade 12 English to complete their diploma.

  • The school board will require you to do an assessment, if you are a newcomer student. This test will assess your English and Math levels.


If you need help registering your child for school, CUIAS counsellors
will be happy to assist you.


How Do I register my child for School?