CanSchool Learning Centre, founded by Inna Kogan, gives teenagers across Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other former CIS countries an opportunity to obtain a Canadian High School Diploma (OSSD) and to continue their education abroad with certain benefits. In this exclusive interview, Inna Kogan, the founder of this educational project, is telling FD about the prospects and difficulties of implementing modern technologies in our school system.
What inspired you to form this high-tech modern educational establishment?
– As it happened, I am a licensed lawyer practicing in Canada. Having worked in the legal field since 2000, I have encountered numerous cases where young and talented people faced difficulties and disadvantages when seeking entry to Western Universities.
Often times, worthy candidates suffered unfairly only because their high school certificates did not correspond to the 12–year high school diplomas required in the US and Canada. They were frequently required to wait a full year doing foundation or other preparatory courses because in former CIS educational systems schooling takes 11 years, while in Canada and the USA – twelve.
Our learning centre was created in order to address this unjust disparity, by giving the teenagers an opportunity to complete this academic difference of 6 subjects via distance learning.
Canadian high school diploma, which is issued by the Ministry of Education (in our case – of the province of Ontario), allows graduates of Ukrainian, Kazakh and other former CIS countries’ schools, to get acceptance to Universities without delays. They enter Universities on par with their counterparts in Canada and other Western countries.
When starting this project, like with any new initiative, there was no doubt that certain difficulties would have to be overcome. After having run the centre for a period of 5 years, it is safe to say that CanSchool is unique in its approach to preparing high school students for studies at the University level.
Why did you choose Canada? Aren’t countries like the USA or European Union states more popular among our youth?
– The Canadian high school diploma allows students to apply to any University in Europe, North America, and even Australia and New Zealand, as long as this University offers its curriculum in the English language. This is one of the reasons why our learning centre is so popular. I am saying this not as advertising, but rather an attempt to clarify the main purpose of the project. In addition, I cannot quite agree that education in Canada is less popular than that in the USA or in the European countries. Canadian Universities are consistently among the world’s top rated higher education establishments. This includes the fields of science and technology, law as well as business management. Importantly, studying at Canadian Universities and Colleges is considerably less expensive than obtaining degrees of comparable quality and prestige in the US or England.
Why did you choose school children attending grades 8 and 9 as your students?
– First of all, this is the age when young adults start maturing and determining their life goals. They start forming their priorities and feel motivated in attaining their educational aims. This is the period when the future adult’s personality is forming. At this age it is important to introduce global values and to expand their horizons. For CanSchool’s team, as educators, it is of paramount importance to let our students feel that they belong, that they are a part of a global educational community, where they have a chance to demonstrate their leadership qualities unhindered by their nationality, residence or cultural background. As part of our educational initiative, CanSchool also introduces the feeling of global citizenship, respect for others, empathy, kindness and support for those in greater need. Maybe because CanSchool was created with love and care, students study here with pleasure. Many teenagers come in early and stay late in order to have a chance to discuss issues arising out of their school materials.
In addition to pure educational content, each student has a responsibility to join a charitable cause of their choice. CanSchool works in close cooperation with Happy Paw (helping homeless cats and dogs), “Women in Business” organization (helping orphans), international charitable initiative YMCA (helping those in need) and other worthy humanitarian causes. Taking part in one or several of such projects is mandatory for all of CanSchool’s students.
How many of CanSchool’s graduates were actually admitted to foreign educational establishment after having obtained a Canadian High School Diploma?
– Let me put it this way, there are no students who failed to reach their goals and this is the main reason for my feeling pride in our graduates’ achievements. I am also extremely proud that some of our graduates have received awards, grants and scholarships in Canada.
This is an especially important accomplishment as it is virtually impossible for a foreign student to qualify for a monetary grant in Canada. I am glad to say that CanSchool has allowed our students to overcome this hurdle by obtaining a Canadian diploma. Their knowledge and skills have permitted them to stand out and attract attention to their achievements and leadership qualities.
Our graduates have been successfully accepted in Universities not only in Canada and the US, but also in Germany, Austria, Poland and Holland. The Canadian high school diploma allows students to pursue higher education at any University with English curriculum and content.
At CanSchool, all subjects are taught exclusively in English through extensive communication with native speakers. Our students attend language summer programs and speak fluent English by the time they graduate.
It is unfortunate that not all those who wish to learn English at such a high level can do so by attending a regular secondary school. For many young people wishing to study abroad, CanSchool became a “magic wand” for success.
Over the period of 3–4 years at CanSchool, high school students have to complete 6 subjects of the Canadian curriculum. These subjects form the academic difference between Canadian and former CIS secondary school systems. Some of these subjects are mandatory, while others can be chosen from an extensive list of options. As a part of the program, with the help of additional seminars and training sessions, students are taught how to determine their strengths and weaknesses. This in turn allows them to pick the field of their future studies: whether to major in science, humanities, social studies, etc. Canadian guidance counsellors recommend majors taking into account the student’s personal preferences, and the opinions of the child’s parents and teachers. Additionally, guidance counsellors analyze the future employability prospects of the student’s field of choice. CanSchool’s students are exposed to a vast range of opportunities such as taking part in international competitions and tournaments, during which they demonstrate their talents and inclinations. CanSchool, as a learning centre offering Canadian high school curriculum, has access to all opportunities open to regular Canadian students.
In 2018 alone, six of CanSchool’s students received awards for their participation and achievements in an all-Canadian literature and creative writing contest. Four of CanSchool’s students took part in an international business tournament organized by an American University and successfully passed the first round of this competition by creating a unique business idea for a start-up and formulating it into a professional business plan.
At the conclusion of our conversation, is there anything that you would like to wish to the country’s teenagers?
– Our learning centre stands for an important message – CanSchool means “I can!” Therefore, I genuinely wish for all high school students to establish their priorities in life and never to stop half-way to their goals.
You are masters of your own future – dreams will come true!