A Comparative Study on Educational System in Canada and the Philippines

Curriculum, Age Requirement, Grading System, Required School Hours, Medium of Instruction, Administration and Governance

Textbook, 2020

61 Pages, Grade: 1.2


Table of Contents










Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, but learners may also educate themselves. Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. Education is commonly divided formally into such stages as preschool or kindergarten, primary school, secondary school and then college, university, or apprenticeship (Johnson, 1916).

Like the teaching profession, education systems are, by nature, extremely complex and multifaceted, and the challenges entailed in reforming or improving them can be similarly complex and multifaceted. Even reforms that appear to be straightforward, simple, or easily achieved may, in practice, require complicated state-policy changes, union-contract negotiations, school-schedule modifications, or countless other conditions.

Education in Canada is a very high priority of the government. The country boasts a state-run system of public education, one that is provided, funded and administered by federal, provincial and local governments. Jurisdiction of the public education system, as well its curriculum, is overseen by each province. The Council of Ministers of Education is a forum for education ministers to discuss matters related to education, coordinate education activities and share information (Scholey, 2015).

Education in the Philippines is a 13-year compulsory education which is divided into Kindergarten, Primary Education, Junior High School, and Senior High School. K-12 is a program that covers kindergarten and 12 years of basic education to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship (Amoroso, 2005).


Upon completion of reading this module, you will be able to:

A. compare the systems, policies, processes, and practices of education in Canada and the Philippines,
B. appreciate the educational system in Canada by adapting the smart systems that are applicable to develop students' appreciation for school learning, and
C. design a curriculum that foster students' skills and knowledge to take on challenges of the future.


A. Definition of Terms

The following terms are defined in accordance with their conceptual meaning to have a working knowledge and better understanding of reading this module.

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The succeeding Tables show the distinctions of the Head of Office by educational levels and jurisdictions of Canada and the Philippines.

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Canada is a beautiful country occupying the northernmost region of the North American continent. The country, which consists of 10 distinct provinces and 3 territories, extends all the way from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean. With nearly 10 million square kilometers of land space, Canada is the world’s second-largest country by total area, and its southern border, which it shares with the United States, is the longest continuous land border in the world. Canada is a highly developed country, with an excellent system of education. Below will take a closer look at that education system, and describe the various levels or stages that comprise it (Routledge, 2012).

Compulsory education starts at the age of five in most provinces when children enter kindergarten. Parents can choose to send their kids to pre-school and nursery but this is not covered under the public school system and is private institutions. This is highly recommended for students whose parents don't speak English or French as their mother tongue.

Education is compulsory up to the age of 16 to 18 depending on provincial regulations. Individuals between ages 19 and 21 can continue to attend school if they have not fulfilled their diploma requirements and wish to continue. There are special classes within public schools and teachers to cater to the needs to special needs students. In the province of Quebec, students attend high school for grades 7 to 11 and then transfer to a general and vocational college for a further two or three years (Routledge, 2012). Public education is provided free to all Canadian citizens and permanent residents up to the end of secondary school (age 18 in most jurisdictions).

Grading System

Academic grading in Canada varies by province, level of education (e.g., high school or university), institution (e.g., Queen's), and faculty. The following are commonly used conversions from percentage grades to letter grades; however, this is not necessarily meaningful, since there is not a uniform scheme for assigning percentage grades either. A grade A would be 80–100% a B would be 70–79%.

Letter Grade Interpretation:

A = The student demonstrates excellent or outstanding performance in relation to expected learning outcomes for the course or subject and grade.

B = The student demonstrates very good performance in relation to expected learning outcomes for the course or subject and grade.

C+ = The student demonstrates good performance in relation to expected learning outcomes for the course or subject and grade.

C = The student demonstrates satisfactory performance in relation to expected learning outcomes for the course or subject and grade.

C- = The student demonstrates minimally acceptable performance in relation to expected learning outcomes for the course or subject and grade.

I = (In Progress or Incomplete) The student, for a variety of reasons, is not demonstrating minimally acceptable performance in relation to the expected learning outcomes. An "I" letter grade may only be assigned in accordance with section 3.

F = (Failed) The student has not demonstrated the minimally acceptable performance in relation to the expected learning outcomes for the course or subject and grade. F (Failed) may only be used as a final letter grade if an "I" (In Progress) letter grade has been previously assigned or the "F" is assigned as a result of failing a provincially examinable course.

W = (Withdrawal) According to the policy of the board, and upon request of the parent of the student or, when appropriate, the student, the principal, vice principal or director of instruction in charge of a school may grant permission to a student to withdraw from a course or subject.

SG = (Standing Granted) Although completion of normal requirements is not possible, a sufficient level of performance has been attained to warrant, consistent with the best interests of the student, the granting of standing for the course or subject and grade. Standing Granted may be used in cases of serious illness, hospitalization, late entry or early leaving, but may only be granted by an adjudication process authorized by the principal, vice principal or director of instruction in charge of the school. Standing Granted may not be used for a course with a Required Graduation Program Examination. Standing Granted may not be used for Graduation Transitions.

(TS = Transfer Standing) May be granted by the principal, vice principal or director of instruction in charge of a school on the basis of an examination of records from an institution other than a school as defined in the School Act.

Table below shows the percentage, letter grade, grade point value and grade definition of Canadian education system.

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School Hours

The school year in Canada is pretty similar to the one that’s followed in the United States. Classes run from early September until late June, for about 10 months total. The school year is usually divided into two semesters, though in some regions it’s based on quarters or trimesters (Todd, 2013).

Though it’s less common, there are schools that run year round, as well as ones that follow an adjusted term schedule that starts in August and ends in May. Regardless of which type of school is in your area, the administration notifies parents well ahead of time about term dates, vacations and holidays (Tamminga, 2013).

For elementary school students, the school day typically starts around 8:30am and runs until 3-3:30PM. Children get lunch and recess within their school day. Students in junior high school and high school usually have slightly shorter school days, from 8:30 to 3:00, which allows them to participate in after school activities like sports, extracurricular and part time jobs (Axelrod, 1997).

School Year

The school year varies from start dates in early August through September to end dates from early May through June of the following year. There are some year rounds schools and some start in mid-August and end in mid-May. Students have a five day work week. The exact number of instructional days varies; the current Education Act legislates 195 days. Senior secondary courses can be timetabled as year-long courses or in semesters with double periods in a subject area offered for only a half year. In senior secondary schools, courses are generally offered once a year. Credit toward graduation is based on 25 hours of study per credit. Currently, 100 credits are required for graduation (Di Mascio, 2012).

The academic year usually finishes at the end of June. Students are on vacation for the entire months of July and August. Teachers return to work and start preparing for school during the last few days of August. Students traditionally start the new academic year on the day after the Labour Day public holiday. Labour Day is the first Monday in September, and children typically start school on the following day, the Tuesday. Students get a two-week break over Christmas and New Year. Students get a ten-day break in the spring. Depending on the timing of Easter, spring break may or may not coincide with Easter. Schools are closed on professional development days (when teachers attend professional seminars and workshops) and on public holidays (Gidney, 2011).

Medium of Instruction

Canada is a bilingual country with both English and French as official languages. The language of instruction in most schools is English with the exception of the province of Quebec where the primary language of instruction is French. Schools have provisions for students who do not speak either English or French (Axelrod,1997).

Parents can enquire about English as Second Language (ESL) and French as Second Language (FSL) classes. The ESL/FSL class are taught an easier curriculum and some students may not benefit from this. Parents must do a thorough enquiry to ensure the interest of their children is not harmed.

Organization and Structure

The Canadian constitution has stipulated that control over education rests with the individual provinces. This has resulted in a situation where 12 autonomous educational systems, one in each of the provinces and 2 territories. Individual systems have developed their own distinctive ways of regulating particular facets of their operation. While there are similarities in many areas of operation, each province has developed its own legislation dealing with a variety of operational areas, among them religious schools and schooling, compulsory attendance, school and school system organization and francophone education (Burke, 2012).

The difference in school jurisdiction organization is most notable in the manner in which religious schools and religion in schools is structured. Each province has developed its own solution to the issue of state-supported sectarian schools. While some provinces have a dual system within the public education structure whereby the Catholic or Protestant minorities are entitled to operate their own schools, five provinces have legislation in place which only permits the operation of religious schools as private or independent schools. Funding of religious schools is also problematic as five of the provinces provide no direct financial assistance to private schools (Gidney, 2011).

Some provinces provide funding for the public denominational schools. Others also provide public funding for private and independent schools. In a number of provinces, however, there is no funding at all for religious schools, although all provinces permit their operation provided they meet certain government requirements for buildings and program delivery. Differences can be seen also in the manner in which levels of schooling are organized in the provinces. All provinces currently provide financial support for kindergartens (Harris, 1976).

The Minister of Education and the Department of Education

In each province, the Department or Ministry of Education, headed by the minister of education, is the central educational authority. In some provinces postsecondary education and training is assigned to a separate minister and department, while in others both portfolios are included within a single jurisdiction. The minister of education, an elected member of the provincial legislature, is appointed to the education portfolio by the premier; he or she is also a member of Cabinet. In the Canadian parliamentary system, the Cabinet responsible to the legislature and dependent on the support of a majority of its members is the key planning and directing agency of government. It determines what legislation is brought forward by the government, as well as formulates policy and supervises its implementation in education and all other areas of provincial jurisdiction (Council of Ministers of Education in Canada, 1994).

The role played by a minister of education at any particular period of time depends on the overall priorities of the premier and the government, and on the ability of the minister to influence these priorities. Ministers make or approve decisions about all sorts of educational issues, from new curricula to be introduced, to rules governing the certification of teachers, to the number of credits required for high-school graduation. The minister must defend before the public the government’s policies on education, even if he or she was opposed to the policy. And when parties to a local dispute at the school board or district level cannot come to an agreement, they will often call on the minister to intervene and settle the matter (Burke, 2012).

The department’s civil service is headed by the deputy minister, who is a civil servant appointed by the Cabinet. At one time, provincial deputy ministers were almost always career educators, many of whom had previously been teachers, principals, and school superintendents. The deputy minister coordinates the work of the department in all its multiple functions. A typical department of education will have units dealing with areas such as planning, school finance, curriculum development and assessment, special education, language programs, and renovation/construction of school buildings. All of these tasks require full-time attention and some technical expertise; thus, departments of education today tend to be large organizations employing hundreds of people, many of whom are professional educators (Harris, 1976).

The Department of Education is a mix of political and professional authority, embodying the tension between professional and lay control. The civil servants are generally guided by their professional training and background. Their views of the needs of education are often similar to those of teachers in schools. These tensions are part of the process of government, and can contribute toward developing policies that are sensitive to both professional skills and public wants (Levin, 2005).

Provincial and Territorial Departments and Ministries

For each type of publicly funded school (such as Public English or Public French), the province is divided into districts (or divisions). For each district, board members (trustees) are elected only by its supporters within the district (voters receive a ballot for just one of the boards in their area). Normally, all publicly funded schools are under the authority of their local district school board. These school boards would follow a common curriculum set up by the province the board resides in. Only Alberta allows public charter schools, which are independent of any district board. Instead, they each have their own board, which reports directly to the province (Harris, 1976).

Table below presents the provincial and territorial departments and ministries.

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Education across Canada is generally divided into four stages: pre-school or early childhood education; primary or elementary education; secondary education and post-secondary or tertiary education, which includes college and university programs and vocational/technical schooling. The provincial and local governments are mainly responsible for funding and providing universal free education up until grade 12. Educational practices and policies vary depending on the province. Control of public school system to a large extent is decentralized and overseen by local school authorities.

Pre-Elementary Education in Canada

Pre-elementary programs in Canada—educational programs offered to young children (4-5 years) prior to that student beginning elementary school at age six—are offered by public, private, and federal schools within the country, as well as schools for the visually and hearing impaired. Most jurisdictions offer one year of public pre-elementary education (usually called kindergarten), with Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta offering additional years of free preschool. Parents living in jurisdictions that have offer but one free year of pre-primary education have the option of enrolling their children in a private program until those children reach the eligible age.

In most jurisdictions, kindergarten (the pre-elementary program in the year before Grade One is offered to children who turn 5 years of age by a certain date in the school year, as specified by jurisdictional or provincial legislation. Attendance in these programs is optional in most jurisdictions, although it is mandatory in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The intensity of these programs varies; some jurisdictions offer full-day programs, some have half-day programs, and some offer both.

In the province of Quebec, one additional year of publicly-funded pre-elementary schooling is available to some 4-year old children who have disabilities or who are from low-income families. In Ontario, the provision of an additional year of pre-elementary for 4-year-olds is dependent on the choice of the local school board, and funding is provided by the Ministry of Education.

The curriculum offered in kindergarten and other pre-elementary programs is far from rigid. Students are introduced to the alphabet, pre-reading and mathematics skills, music, art, and play. All kindergarten and early child hood education programs in the country are designed to prepare students for success at the next level of education (primary school) by teaching them how to participate and act appropriately within the group setting and cooperate with both the instructor and the other children in the class.

Primary (Elementary) Education in Canada

Primary education in Canada is compulsory for all children, usually beginning at age 6 or 7 with Grade One. Students receive six years of primary education—Grade 1 through Grade 6—typically broken down in the following manner: Grade 1 (ages 6–7), Grade 2 (ages 7–8), Grade 3 (ages 8–9), Grade 4 (ages 9–10), Grade 5 (ages 10–11), and Grade 6 (ages 11–12).

Students in the primary grades of education typically study under only one instructor for the entire school year and receive that instruction in a single classroom. Special education programs may also have one to four instructional aides present, depending on the type and severity of the students’ disabilities, to assist the teacher throughout the day.

The curriculum at the primary stage of education encompasses a number of subject areas, including mathematics, reading, language arts (usually English language, but French in Quebec), social studies, history, geography, science, music, art and physical education. Naturally, the difficulty of said curriculum increases somewhat with every passing grade, as students learn to master new skills.

Secondary Education in Canada

Secondary education in Canada consists of two distinct levels: intermediate or junior high school; and high school.

Intermediate Education

Once students have successfully completed the final year of elementary or primary education, or Grade 6, they are promoted to intermediate or junior high school. Intermediate school is a two-year educational stage, broken down into the following two grades: Grade 7 (ages 12–13) and Grade 8 (ages 13–14).

In Grade 7, at the age of 12 or 13, students are introduced to the process of attending different classrooms throughout the day and having different teachers for every class. These teachers are considered experts in the subject they teach and must obtain a single-subject teaching certificate indicating that expertise.

The basic goal of intermediate education is to prepare students to enter the next phase of secondary education, or high school. They are taught many of the same subjects in which they received instruction in primary school, although the difficulty increases substantially. Other subjects are also added to the curriculum in intermediate school, most notably foreign language instruction—French, Spanish, English (for Quebec students), etc.

High School Education

The curriculum in all of Canada’s high schools is designed to prepare students for a college or university education and/or provide them with the skills to succeed vocationally once they graduate. Depending on the jurisdiction, a variety of programs —vocational (job-training) as well as academic—is offered at the high school level. Some jurisdictions even offer dual credit courses that simultaneously give students both high school and postsecondary credits.

Once students successfully complete the 8 Grade, they are promoted once again, this time to high school—a four year program that breaks down in the following way: Grade 9 (ages 14–15), Grade 10 (ages 15–16), Grade 11 (ages 16–17), Grade 12 (ages 17–18).

Approximately 90 percent of students in Canada successfully complete high school and are awarded a diploma for their efforts. Secondary education in Quebec continues to Grade 11 (Secondary V), and is typically followed by college, a two year pre-university (university for Quebecers is three years, except Engineering), or three year vocational program taken after high school.


The tertiary education system in Canada is divided into: Certificate level, generally for a year; Diploma level, for one or two years; Advanced Diploma, generally two or three-year programs; Bachelor degrees, awarded after four years of full-time study; Post-graduate Diplomas/Certificates, for one or two years of study; Master’s degrees, available after a bachelor degree to excel in a certain subject, for one to two years; and Doctorate or PhD, generally four to seven years.

Vocational Schools and Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships in Canada allow students to learn the skills they need for a given trade by working hands-on in that environment under a qualified supervisor. Apprenticeship training involves a contract between an apprentice and an employer—registered with the province or jurisdiction—in which the employer provides the apprentice with training and experience for a trade. Programs such as these vary in length depending on the type of trade or program, ranging anywhere from two to five years.

Registered apprenticeship programs combine real-world experience with classroom education. In most provinces, the classroom portion of the course is conducted during the apprenticeship training, although in Quebec, classroom instruction must be taken prior to beginning an apprenticeship program. There are over 200 registered trades in Canada, each with specific standards and training requirements outlined by the provinces. In some of these trades, apprenticeship training and certification is compulsory to enter into and to practice the trade.

Bachelor’s Degree

The bachelor degrees in Canada take three to four years to complete. There are over two hundred bachelor degree programs offered in various universities in Canada and students can make the choice based on what interests them most. Canadian universities offer high standards of education in their academic programs and a bachelor degree from Canada is therefore globally recognized for its quality. Bachelor's level students can enter after having successfully completed secondary school or the two-year cégep program in Quebec. Bachelor's degrees require three or four years of full-time study, but this depends on the province and whether the program is general or specialized.

Disciplines of Bachelor’s Degrees

- Administration Studies
- Architecture Studies
- Art Studies
- Aviation
- Business Studies
- Cosmetology
- Design Studies
- Economic Studies
- Education
- Engineering Studies
- Environmental Studies
- Fashion
- Food and Beverage Studies
- General Studies
- Humanities Studies
- Journalism and Mass Communication
- Law Studies
- Life Sciences
- Management Studies
- Marketing Studies
- Natural Sciences
- Performing Arts
- Professional Studies
- Social Sciences
- Sport
- Sustainability Studies
- Technology Studies
- Tourism and Hospitality

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree is a postgraduate degree that students can earn once they have completed the required coursework in their chosen discipline. MA degrees are available in many different specialties, which allow students to tailor their education to their future career and life goals. Masters programs in Canada are offered in many different fields with two main types of course – academic and professional (Sapienza, 2002).

Academic programs usually involve a final paper and or comprehensive examinations at the end. These requirements can also apply to professional master's program; however, the emphasis here lies on professional practice at an advanced level. Professional master’s program usually takes longer (2 to 3 years) and the type of program is included in its name: Master of Business Administration, Master of Social Work, Master of Public Health, Master of Applied Engineering, and so forth. Programs with an academic focus usually award either a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS).

Masters degrees in Education explore advanced topics in pedagogy (the theory and practice of education) as well as individual teacher training for schools, higher education and specialist roles. Many courses are designed for students wishing to become qualified teachers, but some also provide continuing professional development (CPD) for existing practitioners.

Professional Master’s Program

- Master in Information Technology
- Master of Applied Engineering
- Master of Business Administration
- Master of Public Health
- Master of Social Work

Academic Master’s Program

- MA in Classical Archaeology
- MA in Criminology
- MA in Education
- MA in English
- MA in History
- MA in Industrial-organizational (I/O) Psychology
- MA in Mathematics
- MA in Military Psychology
- MA in Physics
- MS in Biology
- MS in Chemistry
- MS in Economics
- MS in Environmental Science
- MS in Mathematics
- MS in Microbiology
- MS in Physics
- MS in Psychology

Doctoral Degrees

Doctoral degrees in Canada are the highest level and require students to produce an original piece of research. Unlike other countries such as the UK, doctoral students in Canada are still expected to complete coursework and written examinations rather than just focusing on their research.

Types of Schools

Most Canadians attend public schools, which are government funded. However, independent or private (fee-paying) schools are also available. Religious schools exist but it depends on the province as to whether these are publicly funded or private. International schools can be found in large urban areas but these are predominantly private.

International Schools

English language lessons are usually provided to newcomers who are not English speakers. French is also offered to newcomers in some provinces (for example Ontario) for those who don't already speak French. These services are provided in association with local settlement agencies (such as the library Settlement Partnership) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Home Schooling

Home schooling is allowed in Canada but requirements and regulations vary from province to province, in accordance to the relevant Education Act and Regulations. Some provinces only require notification regarding a child's home schooling, while others require regular reporting. There are many resource sites which provide support to parents who choose to home school.

Special Needs Education

It is law in Canada that all public schools have some form of special needs program. However, individual schools may not be able to cater for particular disabilities or severe learning difficulties. In this case, children are able to attend specialist schools which cater for children with higher needs. These may be fee-paying but there is often funding available from private organizations, as well as provincial government funds.

Some of the top universities in the world are available in Canada, and students from all over the world have come to join the biggest names in their field. Experts in Journalism, Politics, Medicine, and Technology got their start at universities like the University of Toronto and McGill University; and you’ll have the chance to work alongside some of the sharpest minds in the world.

Canada offers an interesting variety of college models: colleges, polytechnics, and cégeps (vocational schools). Depending on what your goals are, or what you’re looking for, you may want to select the institutional model that fits your needs.


The Philippine education system can be described as a dynamic one. The implementation of the K–12 Program of DepEd and subsequent ratification of Kindergarten Education Act of 2012 and Enhanced Basic Education Act of 2013, the basic education today takes thirteen years to complete—one year of kindergarten, six years of elementary education, four years of junior high school and two years of senior high school for children aged five up to seventeen. Meanwhile, higher education requires even as little as two years (e.g. associate degree) or much longer (e.g. bachelor's degree, master's degree, doctorate) to complete in universities and colleges, and much shorter in technical and vocational schools.


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A Comparative Study on Educational System in Canada and the Philippines
Curriculum, Age Requirement, Grading System, Required School Hours, Medium of Instruction, Administration and Governance
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ISBN (Book)
administration, study, school, requirement, required, philippines, medium, instruction, hours, grading, governance, educational, curriculum, comparative, canada, system
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Dr. Louie Sanlad (Author), 2020, A Comparative Study on Educational System in Canada and the Philippines, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/540471


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