must decide whether to send their children to English or to French
schools. They must also choose among the non-denominational, Roman
Catholic, or private systems. After finding the nearest school that meets
their requirements, parents may visit the school and ask questions about
it. Or they can call their school board and ask about other schools.
cases, it is best for children to begin school soon after arriving in
Canada. It is not always easy to know which grade your child should enter
(especially if he or she is of high school age), but this can be worked
out with school staff. They will suggest a grade for your child and will
help you make important decisions about his or her education.
child can be enrolled, you must prove that he or she has been immunized as
required by the laws of Ontario. School staff can explain the immunization
register your child, tell school staff about your child's special needs,
interests, and problems, if any. Make sure that staff understand your
child's medical or dietary needs and learning problems. Give the staff a
good idea of your child's previous education. School documents are not
required but would be helpful.
You can find
out about school hours, lunch arrangements, holidays, and "before school"
and "after school" activities from the staff.
law, children under the age of 18 have the right to attend school in the
area served by their local board of education. This is true even if they,
their parents, or their guardians are in Canada illegally or without
refugee claimants are sometimes asked to show written proof that their
refugee claim for themselves and their children is being considered in
Canada. If this happens, it should be enough to show school authorities
the document entitled "Acknowledgment of Intention to Claim Refugee
Status". With or without documents, however, a child's admission to school
should not be delayed.
guardians who are having problems registering their child for school
should contact their community legal clinic.
classes for newcomers are often called ESL classes. "ESL" stands for
"English as a Second Language".
are offered through boards of education, community colleges, immigrant aid
agencies (such as COSTI, the Chinese Interpreter and Information Service,
and St. Stephen's Community Centre in Toronto), and many other
classes are given during the day. Others are given in the evening or on
the weekend. Child care can sometimes be arranged. Some classes are
continuous, but most have waiting lists.
information, contact your school board, immigrant aid agency, or community
If you wish
to upgrade your education, you can take high school or college classes.
With few exceptions, if you are not a permanent resident, you must first
apply for and obtain a student authorization from Immigration.
You also have
to meet the requirements of the school you want to attend. See the fact
sheet called Educational Equivalency for information about getting your
educational qualifications assessed.