New numbers from Statistics Canada show B.C. is not alone in its sagging public school enrollment numbers.
Back in January, the province announced enrollment was up for the 2015/2016 year by about 5,000 students – the first bump in about 20 years.
But Julie Lavigne with the statistics agency’s education, labour, and income branch says in the five years prior, the number of kids in B.C.’s public schools dipped by about 1% per year.
“[The] Total number in the 2014/2015 school year was 552,786. In comparison to the 2011 year, which was 579, 511,” she said.
But it’s not a problem unique to B.C.
Canada-wide, public school enrollment was down by about 15,000 students over the same period.
That decline was led by slides in five provinces: Ontario, PEI, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
The biggest gainers were Quebec, Nunavut, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. In that last province, enrollment jumped by about 10% in the five-year period.
Lavigne says demographic shifts in B.C. may have something to do with the numbers.
“The population data offers a possible explanation for this decline. The B.C. population of school-aged children has declined over the past five years,” she said.
In B.C.’s case, competition from private schools also appears to be having an effect.
Data from the Federation of Independent School Associations shows enrollment up in that system by about 10,000 students between 2010 and 2015.