Alberta’s Education System
In Canada, each province and territory has jurisdiction over its own education system. Public education is free for all Canadian citizens and permanent residents under the age of 20.
Parents are responsible for providing school supplies, school uniforms are not worn, but band and sports uniforms are also the responsibility of the parents. In Alberta, students between the ages of 6 and 16 are required by law to attend school.
It is extremely important that you know when the enrollment period is to ensure that your children get the places in the schools you want. Registration normally takes place several months before the start of the year (IP registration in February before September). Please contact the relevant school to find out the exact details. An administration fee may be charged to register your child!
There are a number of different types of education available for your child’s education in Alberta. The choices are: Public, French Immersion, Catholic, Francophone, Charter, and Private Schools. Parents also have the option of homeschooling their children.
Each school has its own presence area; School boards are obliged to provide transport for pupils who live further than 2.4 kilometers away. This may incur costs that you can expect before the start of each school year. Your child does not have to enroll in the school in your area of learning, you can choose to enroll them elsewhere. However, the parents are then responsible for transport to and from school. Also, a percentage of the local taxes that each resident must pay is paid to the school system of your choice (Catholic, public, etc.) in your catchment area.
The school year usually runs from September to June 30. However, there may be differences from system to system. Most schools close for the months of July and August, as well as Christmas and Easter breaks.
Kindergarten and Kindergarten
Schooling can start from the age of 3, in kindergarten. These are usually privately managed; therefore you have to pay for it. Most children go to kindergarten until they are five years old.
Children’s Services sets standards for nurseries, kindergartens, walk-in homes, and family daycare centers. This ensures the health and safety and well-being of the children who visit these facilities.
Kindergarten generally begins at the age of 5, although some school boards have different age limits. The student follows 5 days of morning or afternoon classes. The kindergarten has 400 teaching hours per year. It is normally part of the school your child goes to in group 1 and is a good preparation for full-time school.
If your child(ren) are around this age, make sure you learn more about vaccinations. Standard vaccinations will be offered which schools MUST urge to be up to date before entering school. Contact your chosen school for more information.
This age or younger is a very good time to think about saving for your child’s post-secondary education. The cost of post secondary education in Alberta is very expensive. A savings plan is available in which the federal government will contribute a percentage of your contributions. These are called Registered Education Savings Schemes (RESP).
Primary and secondary school
Children start primary school at age 6 (Grade 1) and stay there until they are 12 years old (Grade 6). There are certain subjects that are required in these grades; these include language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, art and music, health and physical education. Optional courses are also available; these differ from school to school.
Some school boards have a secondary school for grades 5 to 8. If there is no secondary school structure, the children attend primary school for grades 7 through 9. (ages 12 to 15)
Finally, there is Senior high school; this is for grades 10 – 12 (15 – 18 years). To graduate from high school, students must complete 100 credits. Credits are given for various subjects and courses that the student can take.
High schools also offer many different choices for students to help them prepare for further education in Alberta.
Schools are not required to teach a second language, but many schools offer several language courses. Students are encouraged to learn French, Canada’s other official language. Depending on the school, there are many other second language courses available.
Three types of language courses are offered:
Immersion – here French is mainly used during the school day to teach the students. At the elementary level it is used for 50 – 100% of the day and 40 – 80% at the secondary level. You do not need to have French-speaking parents to enroll in French immersion.
Bilingual – in which the language is used 25-50% of the time.
Second language programs – in which a particular language is taught as a course.
Transfer from abroad
Students new to education in Alberta who come from a foreign (non-Canadian curriculum) school system must submit an official statement of prior status, such as a report, to the school where they wish to enroll. You must also have previous school records and transcripts, copies of course outlines and content.
After considering a number of factors, including the age of the students, records, and test results, they are placed in the appropriate class.
Post secondary education
Post-secondary education in Alberta has a wide variety of institutions to choose from:
There are government funded colleges that are located in many different places. The courses these colleges offer include academic upgrade, job readiness, internship certificate, and diplomas.
Alberta’s two major engineering institutions are North Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), located in Edmonton, and South Alberta Institute of Alberta (SAIT), located in Calgary, offering certificates, degrees, apprenticeships, and continuing education in Alberta that are aligned with the workplace requirements.
Three campus-based universities, University of Alberta (Edmonton), University of Calgary and the University of Lethbridge and one distance learning university, the University of Athabasca. There are also seven private colleges accredited to award degrees at the university level.
Another type of course available is the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training System, an industry-government partnership that provides highly skilled workforces in 54 designated occupations. There are also scholarships available in this system.
Student loans, numbers and permits
As with all of Canada, post-secondary education in Alberta is NOT free. Several years ago, the Canadian government launched Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) to help parents save for the future education of their children in Alberta. These are great if you start them early, but if your kids are about to start when you land, it’s too late.
Then there are interest-free student loans available if you attend a designated post-secondary institute full-time. These are only available to Canadian citizens or permanent residents. There are two sources of student loans for education in Alberta: the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta.