Education in BC is governed by the Ministry of Education, which oversees primary and secondary education, and the Ministry of Advanced Education, Training, and Technology, which oversees post-secondary education. In BC, children must attend school between the ages of 5 and 16 (Kindergarten through Grade 10), and parents have a wide range of choice in the type of school they choose, and may also choose to educate their children in either English or French:
- Public—free for BC residents, non-sectarian, government-funded
- Private—religious or secular, parents must pay schools fees
- French Immersion—free for BC residents, for students wishing to learn French
- Francophone—free for BC residents, for students whose first language is French
- Online—free for BC residents
- Homeschooling—students must be registered with a recognized school in the province
- Other—community, alternative, Aboriginal, trades, etc. (check school district for your area)
Kindergarten is the entry year at 5 years of age. Parents can choose either full or half day kindergarten. Elementary or primary school encompasses Grades 1 through 7. High school or secondary school encompasses Grades 8 through 12. Upon successful completion of Grade 12 (and all graduation requirements), students will receive a diploma of graduation and may proceed to post-secondary education.
The BC Ministry of Education requires students to write 5 provincial examinations during Grades 10, 11, and 12—English 10, Math 10, Science 10, Socials 11, and English 12. Writing and passing these specific exams is necessary in order to graduate. There are other optional provincial exams that students can take if they wish. Benefits of taking these optional exams include the awarding of scholarships and the possibility of increasing your final mark (but keep in mind these exams are difficult and this is rarely the case). The downside could be a lowering of your overall mark if you do poorly on the exam.
Further information can be obtained from the BC Ministry of Education: http://www.gov.bc.ca/bced/index.html.
For the admissions process, see this link for specific school districts: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/apps/imcl/imclWeb/Home.do. Keep in mind public school is only free for BC residents (those on a student permit, work visa, landed immigrants, or citizens), and not for visitors. Everyone else will be charged tuition for their child(ren) to attend public school in BC.
BC offers some of the finest post-secondary educational institutions in Canada, with 25 publicly funded universities. For further information please see the BC Ministry of Advanced Education: http://www.aved.gov.bc.ca/institutions/welcome.htm.