State of Learning in Canada

State of Learning in Canada: A Year in Review

March 2010



The 2009–2010 State of Learning in Canada: A Year in Review report provides the most up-to-date information available on Canada’s learning landscape, and in the process helps contribute to a more comprehensive understanding of how Canadians are faring as lifelong learners.

As in previous State of Learning reports, this report reflects CCL’s vision of learning as a lifelong process. Time and again our research affirms that the skills and knowledge that citizens bring to their families, workplaces and communities help determine a country’s economic success and overall quality of life.

It is this core value that continues to guide CCL’s research and our commitment to fostering a learning society in which all members can develop their full potential as active, engaged learners and contributing members of their community.

This report adopts a life-course approach, beginning with data related to learning in the early childhood years and school-based education through to the formal and informal learning of adults.

Also included is a chapter devoted to Aboriginal learning in Canada which features highlights from the ground-breaking December 2009 CCL report The State of Aboriginal Learning in Canada: A Holistic Approach to Measuring Success. This report, which introduced the first application of a unique approach to measuring Aboriginal learning, represents the most current and comprehensive assessment of Aboriginal learning ever conducted in Canada.


The Canadian Council on Learning is driven by the goal of fostering a culture of lifelong learning in Canada. State of Learning in Canada: A Year in Review is organized into five chapters, four of them dedicated to critical stages in an individual’s learning journey: Early Childhood Learning, Learning in School, Post-secondary Learning and Adult Learning. The fifth and final chapter is dedicated to Aboriginal learning.

Early Childhood Learning

Learning in the first five years of childhood has critical implications for well-being and later success in school, at work, and in the community—more so than learning in any other stage of life. It involves the development of a range of skills, including physical, cognitive, language and communications, and emotional and social. Early learning is influenced by the quality of the education or care a child receives.

Learning in School

During the elementary and secondary school years, children and youth develop the skills they need to make the successful transition to adulthood. Young learners’ performance in science, mathematics, problem-solving, reading and other competencies is linked to later achievements, such as participation in post-secondary education, better-paying jobs, and more stable employment.

Post-secondary Education

Post-secondary education is the cornerstone of a skilled workforce, which is linked to higher productivity, innovation and economic growth and to the strengthening of communities through higher civic engagement and social cohesion. It also offers widespread benefits to individuals including: higher wages and job satisfaction, fewer periods of unemployment and improved health and quality of life.

Adult Learning

Adult learning can take many forms, including a return to formal education and informal learning activities. Learning plays a critical role in enabling Canadian adults to maintain the skills and knowledge needed to make informed decisions and lead successful lives. Research has shown that individuals with higher levels of education tend to lead longer and healthier lives, are more engaged in their community, and express greater personal satisfaction with their lives.

Aboriginal Learning

This chapter includes highlights from CCL’s recent report, The State of Aboriginal Learning in Canada, which explored the state of learning in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across the country. They include updates of standard indicators such as high-school completion rates but also data that highlight new information about how Aboriginal people learn which are derived from new data sources, such as exposure to Elders, use of traditional skills, participation in Aboriginal cultural activities, and participation in extracurricular social activities.


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