In­ter­na­tional high school stu­dent num­bers grow­ing

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - PAOLA LORIGGIO

Public high schools across the coun­try are wel­com­ing a grow­ing num­ber of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents in an ef­fort to build valu­able re­la­tion­ships and — in some cases — boost rev­enue.

Though in­ter­na­tional stu­dents make up only a small frac­tion of high school­ers, ad­min­is­tra­tors in On­tario and Bri­tish Columbia say they’ve seen a spike in re­cent years, with some school boards re­port­ing their ranks have dou­bled.

The Toronto District School Board, which has one of the largest such pro­grams in the coun­try, says it sees an in­crease in its in­ter­na­tional pop­u­la­tion of five to 10 per cent each year, with close to 2,000 for­eign stu­dents at­tend­ing last year. Fakhrud­din Khu­da­yar, 18, was one of them. The Grade 12 stu­dent from Afghanistan fin­ished high school in June, but he’s re­turn­ing to East York Col­le­giate In­sti­tute in Toronto for a se­mes­ter this fall to take a few ex­tra math and English cour­ses.

He plans to study ac­count­ing at Seneca Col­lege or the Univer­sity of Toronto next Septem­ber.

Khu­da­yar said he moved to Canada with his par­ents and three younger brothers in 2013 — just be­fore start­ing Grade 9 — be­cause it’s a great place to live. They also have rel­a­tives in Toronto.

The ed­u­ca­tion is good, it’s clean and there is no vi­o­lence, he said. “Back in my coun­try, there is war,” Khu­da­yar said. “And I couldn’t live with it. (Here), I can live in peace.”

School boards say they are mak­ing con­certed ef­forts to draw more in­ter­na­tional stu­dents to their halls, par­tic­i­pat­ing in re­cruit­ing events around the globe, part­ner­ing with ed­u­ca­tion agents and work­ing to iden­tify emerg­ing mar­kets.

“Ev­ery province, in­clud­ing the ter­ri­to­ries, they have in­ter­na­tional stu­dent pro­grams,” said Smita Sen­gupta of the Toronto District School Board. “This is a trend in school boards in On­tario as well as through­out Canada.”

Van­cou­ver, Sur­rey, B.C., and Co­quit­lam, B.C., are among the most pop­u­lar school dis­tricts for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, with Toronto and nearby York Re­gion also rank­ing high, ac­cord­ing to the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion of Public Schools — In­ter­na­tional, an or­ga­ni­za­tion rep­re­sent­ing 133 public school dis­tricts across Canada with in­ter­na­tional stu­dent pro­grams.

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