How to Improve the Quality of Education in Canada?

How to Improve the Quality of Education in Canada?

Although many Canadians do not believe it, international evidence shows that Canada has one of the world’s most effective public education systems. In various international studies, Canadian students rank well compared to most other countries. Just as importantly, the gap between the best and weakest students is smaller than in most other countries. This excellent performance, especially given Canada’s diverse population, is the main reason so many delegations from other countries come to look at their education system to learn what they could do differently.

Even though a lot of pride can be found in public education in Canada, it does not mean improvement is impossible. Here are a few ways to improve the quality of education:

  • Acknowledge and Address Overcrowding

    This issue is concentrated and disproportionately affects low-income and minority students. Overcrowded classrooms are shown to be less effective, resulting in teachers being spread thin, students not getting the attention they require, students losing interest which plants the seeds for dropping out and both teachers and students feeling increased stress.

    Policy makers can begin to avoid this problem by drafting plans that refuse to tolerate even slight overcrowding. This process must be ongoing and maintenance will be necessary as new housing developments can force shifts in school capacities.

    Overcrowding can make both students and teachers feel overwhelmed, discouraged and even disgusted. Teachers in overcrowded schools often report a lack of resources. The lack of resources and sometimes space can lead to lessons being taught in gymnasiums, heightening the stress level for both teachers and students.

  • Address the School-to-Prison Pipeline

    The school-to-prison pipeline issue is complex and its contributing forces include suspensions that disproportionately involve young black students, in-school arrests and zero-tolerance policies with harsh punishments.

    Now that these patterns are being openly noted and discussed, policy makers can take concerted steps from feeding the pipeline by focusing on restorative justice and keeping young people away from the justice system whenever possible.

    Jody Yaa Dunn, a Justice Programs Manager from Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) said that black students in the school system face suspension at much higher rates than their white counterparts. According to BLAC, 42% of black students have been suspended at least once in secondary school, compared to just 18% of white students.

    Marley Lawrence experienced the problem firsthand at a young age. The 21-year-old was raised by his mother in the St. Jamestown neighborhood in Toronto. He admittedly got into trouble while in school but now wonders why no intervention or help was offered at the time. Police came to his door and said that he wouldn’t be allowed back on school property. He would like to know why he wouldn’t hear this from the school first? He was arrested for assault at 13 years old and again for armed robbery when he was 16. Since then, he has turned things around and been working as a youth mentor after finding some guidance through support organizations.

    If schools are focused on measuring their success solely by overall student achievement, students who bring down the average are more likely to be forced out. Instead, curriculum development and classroom priorities should focus on each student’s individual success. A more compassionate and understanding school environment is likely to reduce the need for security guards, police officers and zero-tolerance policies—all of which contribute to a hostile and regimented environment.

  • Raise Standards for Teachers


    Unsurprisingly, studies have found that under-qualified teachers are tied to poor outcomes for students. The good news is that this is one of the most specific areas where policy makers can have an impact. They must clarify standards for teachers seeking licenses and raise standards in areas where student outcomes are the lowest.

  • Put Classroom-Running and Curriculum-Building Decisions in the Hands of the Community

    In recent decades, the education system has moved away from teachers and local boards in terms of who makes decisions that affect classrooms and curricula. Consequently, student outcomes have suffered.

    A push for a move away from standardized control to community-based mechanisms, such as community-elected school boards with the power and authority to decide about how their students are educated is desirable.

    Involve parents in their children’s education where possible. People coming together with coherent messages for policy makers about the changes they would like to see in their education systems can only benefit students.


Education is a large and complex enterprise. So even though the ideas being put forward are not particularly remarkable, achieving them consistently across the country presents a big challenge.

Let us know in the comment section how we can improve the education system.