Worlds Of Learning: Education in Canada, Australia & Germany


In Canada, there is no federal department of education or integrated system for education. Instead, each individual province or territory has departments and ministries responsible for education, which are led by elected officials. These departments and ministries provide administrative support and financial management for educational institutions. Funding for Canadian public education comes directly from provincial or territorial government (i.e. taxes). Regulations are set up to provide grants to schools based on number of students, special needs, and location.

Most provinces or territories mandate public school attendance for all children aged 6 through 16. Approximately 98% of elementary  school students go onto secondary education: high school. Secondary education accounts for the final 4 to 6 years of Canadian public school education. Technical and vocational programs are offered in separate, dedicated training centers. After their secondary education is complete, Canadian students can enter the workforce, attend university to gain theoretical knowledge, or attend college for technical training.


The three-tier Australian education system model is composed of primary education, secondary education, and tertiary education. State-mandated education begins at the primary level typically for children at the age of 5: primary education then lasts for about 6 or 7 years. Secondary education, referred to as high school, begins for children at about age 12, and ends at age 17 or 18. Tertiary education is the university system, which students may choose to enter into upon completion of their secondary education.

In Australia, there are a few different types of schools: state schools, fee paying schools, and boarding schools. School typically runs from January to December with four school terms, generally referred to as “year-round school.” Most Australian educational institutions close for at least six weeks over the winter holidays. This period is considered to be the “Australian summer.” Three other school holidays in April, July, and October last approximately two weeks.

Most schools in Australia require that students wear uniforms, or implement a dress code limiting what students are permitted to wear during school hours. Approximately 64% of Australian students attend public schools, while 34% attend private or Catholic schools. All schools in Australia are structured by the same high standard curriculum framework.


German law requires public school attendance for all children ages 6 through 15. Homeschooling is actually against the law! The German school system is a three-tier system, which divides students into three different tracks:

  • Gymnasium is
    the most advanced level. It is for bright students who are expected to go on to college.
  • Realschule is the middle tier. It is a step down from Gymnasium, and is intended for practical curriculum.
  • Hauptschule is the bottom tier of the educational system. It focuses on training students for trades and blue-collar jobs.

Students are usually placed in one of the three tiers by the age of 10. Moving from one tier to another is not impossible, but it is rare. In the late 1960s, a German educational reform took place, which resulted in the introduction of Gesamtschule, which means “comprehensive school.” Gesamtschule integrated all three tiers of education into one school. Its original purpose was to eliminate the three tier school system, but it was eventually just added to the existing school system.

Traditionally, German schools start the day at 8 AM and finish around 1 or 2 PM. German public school class schedules closely resemble those of United States universities, in which students have different classes every day. Some courses are taught three days a week, and others are taught two days a week. German public school students attend school 220 days a year, compared to 180 days a year in the United States!

By Baker Prewitt, Development Intern