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Chapter A: The output of educational institutions and the impact of learning

A1 Educational attainment of the adult population

  • Between 2000 and 2010, the proportion of adults aged 25 to 64 with tertiary education (the equivalent of college and university completion) increased from 40% to 51% in Canada. At the same time, below upper secondary attainment (the equivalent of less than high school completion) decreased, from 19% to 12%. Similar changes were mirrored in the provinces, as well as on average for the OECD countries.

  • Ninety-two percent of Canadian adults aged 25 to 34 had attained at least upper secondary education in 2010, compared with 82% for those aged 55 to 64, reflecting change in attainment patterns over time. There were relatively small differences between provinces in the proportion of adults aged 25 to 34 with at least a high school diploma; 2010 figures for all  provinces ranged from 90% to 94%.

  • In 2010, close to one-quarter (24%) of 25- to 64-year-olds in Canada had completed tertiary-type B programmes, far greater than the average of 10% reported by the OECD for its member countries. In Canada, tertiary-type B includes non-university certificates or diplomas from community colleges, CEGEPs, or schools of nursing, as well as university certificates below the bachelor's level. The proportion of women who had successfully completed tertiary-type B programmes (28%) was higher than the proportion for men (21%). In the traditionally male-dominated areas of trades and apprenticeship, this attainment was more common among men (16%) than among women (8%).

  • The OECD average for completion of tertiary-type A/advanced research programmes for 25- to 64-year-olds was 22%, which compares with Canada's figure of 26%. In Canada, tertiary-type A refers to bachelor and master's degrees and other university degrees or certificates above a bachelor's degree (but below a doctorate), and advanced research programmes comprises doctorates and post-doctoral programmes. At this level of educational attainment, women in Canada (28%) had an advantage over their male counterparts (25%).

A2 Upper secondary graduation

  • Canada's upper secondary graduation rate was 81% in 2009. The majority of other OECD member countries also reported graduation rates of at least 80%, and the OECD average was 84%. The upper secondary graduation rate is the sum of graduation rates by age, and the latter are obtained by dividing graduates of a specific age by the population of the same age.

  • Upper secondary graduation rates for females were higher than those for males in most provinces and territories, as well as in most of the OECD countries for which comparable data were available. In Canada, the rate for females was 84%; the rate for males, 77%.

  • In Canada in 2009, successful completion in public schools was 72%, slightly higher than the average of 70% for the OECD countries that were able to provide the appropriate data. This indicator measures the "on-time" graduation of the 2006/2007 cohort of Grade 10 students (3e secondaire in Quebec)—an indication of the efficiency of the public school system. Among the provinces and territories, the proportion of students who completed their education within the expected time varied considerably, from 14% in Nunavut to over 80% in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

A3 Labour market outcomes

  • In Canada and other OECD countries, it is evident that employment prospects increase with educational attainment. In 2010, Canada's employment rate for adults aged 25 to 64 who had not completed upper secondary education was 55%. For upper secondary graduates, the employment rate was 72%; for postsecondary non-tertiary graduates, it was 78%. The figures for graduates of tertiary-type B and tertiary-type A/advanced research programmes were 81% and 82%, respectively.

  • In most OECD countries in 2010, the difference in employment rates between the sexes was less pronounced among graduates of tertiary-type A and advanced research programmes compared with the upper secondary graduates. In Canada, a 10-percentage-point difference was observed between men and women in the upper secondary graduation category. The male–female difference for graduates of tertiary programs, both type B (college) and type A/advanced research programmes (university) narrows to 6.5 and 5.9 percentage points, respectively.

  • Variations in employment rates between 1998 and 2010 suggest that some educational attainment groups may be more sensitive to changes in labour market conditions than others. In Canada, adults with less than high school completion (below upper secondary) were the most affected by less favourable labour market conditions: their lowest employment rate during this period was 4 percentage points below their highest rate. There was far less variation (1.5 percentage points) in the trend for adults with tertiary education.

Chapter B: Financial resources invested in education

B1 Expenditure per student

  • In Canada in 2008/2009, expenditure on secondary education ($11,489) was only 7% higher than that on primary education ($10,758). The difference in expenditure between these two levels of education is usually larger among other OECD countries.

  • In Canada at the pre-primary, primary and secondary level, the portion of expenditure per student allocated to core services represented 95% of the total expenditure per student. This is similar to the proportion of expenditure on core services in OECD countries (94%) in primary through postsecondary non-tertiary education.

  • The total expenditure per student on university education in Canada averaged $31,103. It was most noticeably above the Canada-level average in Alberta (46% above), Prince Edward Island (21%) and Saskatchewan (21%).

B2 Expenditure on education as a percentage of GDP

  • With 6.1% of its GDP allocated to educational institutions in 2008, Canada devoted about the same share of its wealth as the OECD countries on average (6.2%). The allocation of financial resources to educational institutions is a collective choice, made by government, business, and individual students and their families. The share of GDP devoted to educational institutions varied from one province or territory to another. It is partially influenced by the size of the school-age population and enrolment in education, as well as the jurisdiction (or country's) relative wealth.

  • In 2008, 40.2% (2.5% of 6.1%) of the share of GDP that Canada invested in education was allocated to the tertiary sector. Among the OECD countries, Canada, along with the United States (36%) and Chile (35.8%), allocated the largest share of education spending to tertiary education.

B3 Distribution of expenditure on education

  • The proportions of education expenditure allocated to current spending in Canada in 2008 were: 92.8% for primary, secondary and postsecondary non-tertiary education, and 89.5% for tertiary. These figures are fairly similar to the average proportions reported by the OECD for its member countries: 91.3% and 91.0%, respectively. Current expenditure reflects spending on school resources that are used each year for the operation of schools.

  • For primary, secondary and postsecondary non-tertiary education, the compensation of staff (77.4%)—particularly teachers (62.4%)—accounted for the largest proportion of current expenditure in Canada in 2008, a situation mirrored in all other OECD countries. At the tertiary level in Canada, 63.1% of current expenditure was devoted to compensation of all staff; more than half of which (36.2%) was spent on compensation for teachers. In all provinces and territories, the proportion of current expenditure allocated to compensation of all staff employed in education was larger in the primary, secondary and postsecondary non-tertiary sector than in the tertiary sector.

  • In Canada, 10.5% of education expenditure for tertiary education was allocated to capital expenditure; the OECD average was 9.0%. For primary, secondary and postsecondary non-tertiary, the corresponding figures for Canada and the OECD were 7.2% and 8.7%, respectively. Capital expenditure reflects spending on assets that last longer than one year and includes spending on the construction, renovation and major repair of buildings.

  • With the exception of Ontario, the proportion allocated to capital expenditure in Canada was generally greater for tertiary than for primary and secondary education.

Chapter C: Access to education, participation and progression

C1 International students

  • In Canada in 2009, close to 100,000 international students were registered in tertiary programmes, the vast majority of them (71.2%) in tertiary-type A programmes. International students are those who are not Canadian citizens and who do not hold a permanent residency permit in Canada.

  • The number of international students who were pursuing studies in tertiary programmes in Canada almost doubled between 2001 and 2009, rising by 8.3% a year on average, with five provinces (Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and Alberta) reporting higher annual growth rates than the Canada average.

  • In Canada, international students accounted for one-fifth (20.5%) of the enrolment in advanced research programmes, a much higher proportion of enrolment than in tertiary-type A (7.1%) and tertiary-type B (4.3%) programmes.

  • Students from China represented the largest group of international students from an individual country of origin, accounting for 26.5% of international students in Canada, followed by students from the United States (7.9%), France (6.6%), India (5.2%), and South Korea (4.9%). China also provided the highest proportions of international students to all provinces but Quebec and New Brunswick (ranging from 28.8% in Ontario to 76.9% in Prince Edward Island).

C2 Transitions to the labour market

  • In Canada in 2010, 43.9% of young adults aged 15 to 29 were still involved "in education". The most recent international average for the OECD countries was slightly higher, at 47.1%. The proportion of females (46.1%) was higher than that for males (41.8%). The proportion of "in education" 15- to 29-year-olds remained quite stable in Canada over the 2000-to-2010 decade.

  • In 2010, 18.5% of 15- to 19-year-olds in Canada were no longer pursuing a formal education; the comparable OECD average is 14.4%. Many in this 15-to-19 age group were employed, and some could actually be high school graduates who had not engaged in any further education.

  • The total "not in education" portion of the 15- to 29-year-old population also includes those who are neither employed nor in education (or training), referred to as the "NEET" population. In 2010, 13.5% of Canada's population aged 15 to 29 was neither employed nor in education (or training), compared with the OECD average of 15.8%. In Canada and in the OECD overall, the highest proportion of individuals who were not in education and not in employment was in the 25-to-29 age group: 16.8%, which compares with the OECD's 20.0%.

Chapter D: The learning environment and organization of schools

D1 Instruction time

  • In Canada in 2009/2010, the total compulsory instruction time in formal classroom settings was 7,363 hours, on average, between the ages of 7 and 14. By comparison, total compulsory instruction time for the OECD countries for which data were available was 6,708 hours, or 655 fewer hours than the average total compulsory instruction time in all public institutions in Canada during the 2009/2010 school year.

  • Total compulsory instruction time for students aged 7 to 14 varied by province and territory, ranging from 6,869 hours in New Brunswick to 8,120 hours in the Northwest Territories.

  • The average annual number of hours of total compulsory instruction time for 15-year-old students who were registered in typical programmes for students of this age was 919 hours in Canada, close to the total for compulsory instruction time in the reporting OECD countries in 2009/2010.

D2 Teachers' salaries

  • In Canada, the starting salary for teachers in public elementary and secondary schools was close to $45,000 Canadian dollars in 2009/2010, ranging from $39,238 in Quebec to $66,022 in the Northwest Territories. 

  • Although Canada and the OECD averages reveal similar relative differences between starting salaries and those at the top (ratios of 1.6 for Canada and the OECD at each level of education taught), Canada's teachers reached the top of their salary scales much sooner than their OECD counterparts (11 years in Canada versus 24 years on average in the OECD countries). 

  • For all levels taught, starting salaries in Canada and its provinces and territories were similar and consistently higher than the OECD averages for its reporting countries, at around $34,000 (converted in US dollars) for each ISCED category. By comparison, the OECD figures were $28,523, $29,801 and $30,889 for primary, lower secondary and upper secondary institutions respectively.

D3 Teachers' working time

  • In Canada, primary school teachers taught an average of 799 hours per year in 2009/2010, compared with the OECD average of 782 hours, resulting in a difference of 17 extra teaching hours per year. Figures vary by province and territory, ranging from 738 hours in Quebec to 905 hours in Alberta.

  • Net annual teaching time was 740 hours at the lower secondary level (generally Grades 7 to 9) and almost the same (744 hours) at the upper secondary level (generally Grades 10 to 12). These figures for Canada are higher than the averages for the OECD countries overall—36 hours higher at the lower secondary level and 86 hours at the upper secondary level.

  • On average in Canada, net teaching time represents about 60% of teachers' total working time. It is similar for lower and upper secondary levels taught, and just slightly higher at the primary level. This ratio and the pattern across levels of education taught are similar to the average in OECD countries. There are variations across jurisdictions in Canada.

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