The Canadian Sociological Association welcomed Dr. Terry Wotherspoon of the University of Saskatchewan to Congress 2022, for a presentation entitled Education in Canada: The American Dream or the New Inequality? Throughout the last two decades, Canada has become increasingly associated with the idea of the ‘American dream’, a title most often associated with the United States. This shift can be attributed to the increase in educational attainment across populations in Canada, contributing to improvements in standards of living; yet some segments of the population face relatively low levels of educational attainment. In this presentation, Dr. Wotherspoon walks us through his research to pose the question: is Canada home to the new American dream, or is this the new inequality?
On an international level, Canada seems to be doing better compared to other nations, with increasing educational attainment throughout the nation.
“Canada has come to be one of the best, if not the best educated country in the world, with more than 60% of Canadians ages 25-64 holding post-secondary credentials,” Dr. Wotherspoon explained.
Globally, Canada is recognized as a highly educated country and has an exemplary status for its focus on diversity, respect, and social justice, leading others to believe the narrative that Canada could hold the new ‘American dream’.
Contributing factors to this narrative are that in Canada, the educational system allows intergenerational mobility, a high degree of postsecondary achievement, the acceptance of immigrants, and the list goes on. To many, the educational system has made it possible for virtually anyone to access a proper education.
But upon further analysis of the educational system within Canada, Dr. Wotherspoon revealed that there are massive discrepancies within the population. The attainability of education is not as widespread as some may think it to be. Canada’s Indigenous peoples, for example, are at the forefront of this new inequality as measured by the attainment of education.
The new inequality in education is influenced by economic globalization, deregulation, heightened significance of educational attainment, and related forms of polarization — all of which play a factor in the relatively low levels of educational attainment for many groups of Canadians.
Canada’s international recognition as a highly educated country means nothing if many Canadians are receiving low levels and inadequate education domestically. Adopting the stance that education matters might be our way of stopping the new inequality.
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