Attending high school in Canada vs Jamaica

Attending high school in Canada vs Jamaica

Jamaica To Canada

Wednesday, November 06, 2019

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Dear Mr Brown,

I am thinking of sending my son to attend a high school in Toronto. I would like to know how you would compare the two systems, since I know from your website that you are from Canada and used to teach in Jamaica. How would you compare the education system in Canada to the one in Jamaica?

— EB

Dear EB:

I can make a comparison between the education systems in Canada and Jamaica based on my experiences, as I have studied in both countries.

I completed my bachelor's degree and law degree in Canada, and I earned my master's degree from The University of the West Indies. As you alluded to, more than 10 years ago, I lectured in business law at the University College of the Caribbean and Northern Caribbean University, and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination law programme.

In making the comparison, I find that undue focus is placed on examinations and test-based curricula in Jamaica, as opposed to learning. Accordingly, students, in general, seek qualification and certification rather than an education. The nature of the CXC curriculum and external examinations lends itself to teachers feeling compelled to exclusively cater to the external examinations, rather than foster general learning.

Teachers may teach only for the test, because an understanding of concepts that are not examined on the external exams is often of little comfort to teachers or students.

In Canada, there are no external examinations. School curricula are both standardised or personalised to meet the needs of individual students. There are different types of secondary schools that focus on and address the needs of students. The aim is for all students to learn.

In addition, there is no equivalent to the PEP assessment to determine admission or the quality of a student's education in high school. In general, schools are adequately funded and with good faculty. As such, the notion of being placed in a good versus bad school, based on performance, is not present.

For example, the Toronto District School Board offers:

• Hundreds of programmes in the arts, humanities, and sciences;

• Education for children with special needs;

• Afrocentric secondary programmes;

• Specialised arts schools;

• Customised learning programmes at alternative schools;

• A safe and secure environment, regarding matters of harassment and discrimination;

• Extremely qualified teachers; and

• Small class sizes.

Special education

The Toronto District School Board offers special education programmes which deal with:

• Autism;

• Behaviour;

• Behaviour itinerant;

• Developmental disability;

• Diagnostic;

• a focus on success;

• Being gifted;

• Hearing;

• Language;

• Learning disability;

• Mild intellectual disability;

• Physical disability.

Guidance programmes

Guidance and career education offered by the Toronto District School Board includes:

• Student life and development, planning life after high school;

• Career planning;

• Post-secondary education;

• Apprenticeships;

• Going to work;

• Emotional and mental health support;

• Coping at school;

• Social skills and responsibility;

• Study skills.

Please note that studying at the secondary level may not necessarily lead to permanent residence. However, subsequent to graduating from high school, your son may enrol in a college or university programme, which may then lead to permanent residence in Canada.

Please visit for additional information on Canadian permanent residence programmes, including express entry, study & work programme, visas or appeals, etc.

Antonn Brown, BA, (Hons), LLB, MSc, RCIC, is an immigration counsel and an accredited Canadian education agent of JAMAICA2CANADA.COM — a Canadian immigration & education firm in Kingston. Send questions/comments to

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