Between Abu Dhabi and Dubai there are now several Canadian school options, yet for most parents the Canadian curriculum remains something of a mystery.
WhichSchoolAdvisor.com spoke to Shawn Merke, founding principal the British Columbia Canadian School, currently under construction in Dubai Investment Park; to get our questions answered on all things Canadian.
Can you outline for the non-Canadians among us, what parents can expect from the Canadian/British Columbia primary school curriculum?
Education in Canada is developed by each individual province. As such there is no standard Canadian curriculum. However, it is true to say that they have some common aims and themes and help to deliver global success in the core subjects.
The newly released PISA 2015 scores demonstrate Canada’s overall strength in Reading, Math and Science with Canada maintaining its position as the leading English language curriculum and achieving a top five performance within the total OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.
The British Columbia (B.C.) curriculum is one of the strongest Canadian curricula and achieved the highest score amongst all countries tested in Reading.
The curriculum is an inclusive education that is designed so that learning is personalised. The curriculum has been designed by a team of educators based on solid research, extensive consultation, and classroom successes from around the world. Our students are guided to become innovative, effective communicators, who are self-aware and socially responsible. Our education is focused on taking the content and core competencies of the curriculum, combining them with the interests and passions of our students, and then investigating how they apply to real-world problems and scenarios. Educators are encouraged to consider creative and flexible ways to unlock the learning potential of students in their charge.
What about secondary school?
British Columbia educators recognise that conditions in the world and thus the realm of education is forever changing. Today we live in a technology-rich, personalised world, where communication is instant and information is immediately accessible. How we communicate today has changed the way we interact with each other personally, socially, and in the world of work.
Knowledge is growing at exponential proportions in many domains and, in the process, creating new information. At the same time, the world is becoming increasingly interconnected and globalised.
This is the world our students will be entering. Our provincial curriculum, at the secondary level, is designed to prepare students for the future. It is learner-centered, flexible, and maintains the focus on literacy and numeracy, while attending to the deeper learning which is concept-based and competency-driven. Our students not only are prepared to enter university academically, but are also prepared to be the leaders of change.
What is you view is the primary emphasis and overall ethos of a good British Columbia education?
The British Columbia education is based on inclusion practices that recognise that all students have innate capabilities that need to be cultivated and nourished. Education needs to be delivered in a way that teaches the student at their level and pace. A learning environment needs to be a safe and secure place that allows the students to feel comfortable in taking risks that will expand their horizons.
Can you explain the British Columbia Canadian exam system?
The British Columbia education system does not conform to an exam system that is centered on standardised tests, but on assignments, projects and provincial tests that are authentic assessments written by educators. In grade 12, provincial exams are taken which are marked by teachers in British Columbia and our students will be graded at the same level as all students in B.C..
As part of our ethos of inclusion, we cannot expect all of our students to display their knowledge and capabilities to their true potential in one single way. Within our student-driven curriculum, students are afforded the opportunity to exhibit their abilities in multiple ways. Applying a multi-faceted approach to assessment does not take away the academic rigour, nor does it give false results. It in fact gives a true assessment of what our students can do, as it applies to real-world contexts.
Which countries/universities accept British Columbia examination results?
Our graduates are accepted around the world based on their course final grades. Universities around are looking for well-rounded students, who not only have goods marks, but possess portfolios that include volunteer work, and activities outside of school. The quality of our diploma is founded in our reputation for excellence. Within Canada, the B.C. curriculum is highly regarded and students are readily accepted into Canada’s leading universities whether they study at home or abroad.
Tell us about the tertiary education in Canada, why should parents consider it as an option after a Canadian education here in the UAE?
Every student and parent around the world should consider the universities in Canada as a viable option. Canada is home to three universities that are ranked in the top 50 in the world (University of British Columbia, University of Toronto and McGill University). Not only does Canada have quality universities, it allows international students to attend university in a foreign land, but still feel like they are at home. Canada is a culturally diverse nation that is welcoming to all nationalities, ethnicities and religions.
International students who graduate from a Canadian institution are generally provided with a three year work visa upon graduation, which is a stepping stone to permanent residency and then citizenship. Canada is not just a place to come to be educated, but is a place to call home.
Who do you think is an ideal candidate to apply to a Canadian curriculum school in the UAE?
An ideal candidate for the British Columbia Canadian School (BCCS) is a student who values education for its true essence and not a desire to memorise facts and figures for an exit exam. BCCS students will include the full spectrum of abilities and will be students who will develop into life-long learners that value the process of learning as well as the mark that comes at the end.
The British Columbia Canadian School is located in Dubai Investment Park and will open in September 2017. For more information go here.