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A National Strategy To Unlock Access To Christian Education In Canada

ON NOVEMBER 9, Cardus Senior Fellow Dr. Deani Van Pelt delivered a trenchant analysis of the current state of independent education in Canada. Titled “Charting New Horizons for Independent Education” Dr. Van Pelt depicted the rapidly growing independent education scene that emerged in the aftermath of pandemic learning losses. With parents seeking greater involvement in the education of their children and entrepreneurial educators responding to this unprecedented demand, new opportunities have emerged.

Dr. Van Pelt argued that vibrant Christian education options benefit students, benefit families and ultimately exist for the public good. She issued a powerful call to “Fund Boldly,” “Foster Local Vibrancy,” and “Advocate Provincially.”

Tony Kamphuis, President and CEO of Christian School Foundation – which partnered with Cardus for the November event – offers his response to Dr. Van Pelt’s presentation.


Christians and non-Christians agree on one thing: the most effective way to shape the next generation is through their education.

No other organization has as much potential to nurture the faith and develop the Christian worldview of young people as Christian schools. With 6-8 hours each day and well over 1,000 hours each school year, this is an unmatched opportunity to shape and guide young people.

This is why Dr. Deani Van Pelt’s presentation revealed a significant opportunity that God is placing before us with so many families seeking a Christian education. To catalyze and maximize the potential for growth in Christian education we need to unlock access by opening up these five doors.


Ample and accessible financial support to meet tuition costs is a fundamental first door to unlock. If a parent believes a Christian education would be best for their child, we can’t allow a lack of financial resources to stand in the way.

In addition, a significant portion of the families new to Christian education will be immigrant and refugee families and students with disabilities. Easily accessible and well-funded tuition assistance programs open the door to Christian education for everyone. Our experience with bursary programs at the Christian School Foundation means you can make a meaningful difference without getting bogged down in administrative detail.


Every child on a waitlist is a lost opportunity. We need more learning spaces in Christian schools to maximize the growth potential God is setting before us.

Additionally, excellent Christian schools serve as broad a range of learners as possible. We need more spaces for skilled trades training and more spaces for students with disabilities. Both groups have been under-served in the past. Doing better in these areas will mean we are growing both in the number of students we serve and the types of learners we serve. Dr. Van Pelt called us to “Fund Boldly” – and this is an area that needs investment.


Every week parents are coming forward with a desire to establish new Christian schools. Their entrepreneurial, pioneering spirit is to be commended! Yet this work is multi-layered and complex. To vastly increase the success of these new schools so they thrive beyond the start-up phase, we need to develop “New Christian School Start-up Kits” as has been done in the U.S. New schools should build on the best practices of other schools and rely on quality research as they target under-served areas and communities.

Dr. Van Pelt called us to “Foster Local Vibrancy” and your support for unlocking this third door will do exactly that.


Excellent Christian schools are defined by their top-notch staff. Visionary and competent staff and leadership unlock a school’s potential.

If we want to maximize the opportunity for growth in Christian education, we need to ensure the brightest and best can afford to teach in Christian schools – especially in a time of chronic teacher shortages. In many situations, this means addressing teacher pay. We also need to expand the available high-level training for our administrators and board leaders and, we need to offer excellent, consistently Christian, professional development for every staff member.


Whether individual schools choose to join the Association for Christian Schools International (ACSI), the Society of Christian Schools in British Columbia (SCSBC), Edvance (Ontario & the East), the Prairie Centre for Christian Educa-tion (PCCE) or any other Christian school association, they need to be plugged into an existing group that can support them in government relations, curriculum development and their financial affairs.

Christian schools need to speak collectively to protect the Christian integrity of our programs of instruction, to seek justice when it comes to funding for students with disabilities and to move governments to see Christian schools as existing for the public good. Dr. Van Pelt calls us to “Advocate Provincially” and provide strength that is not available to schools who try to ‘go it alone.’

Can you imagine opening five doors at once? That would be a daunting, overwhelming challenge – if attempted on our own. But God’s good gift of a Christian community, inspired and equipped by the Holy Spirit, can collectively accomplish great things in His name, if we have all hands on deck.

Dr. Van Pelt has shown us that the future for independent Christian schools in Canada is bright! Let’s work together to catalyze and maximize this amazing gift God has set before us, by executing this national strategy to unlock access to Christian education. Contact the Christian School Foundation to determine how you might play a role in this.

Step forward to get involved in this national strategy!

Contact Tony at [email protected] or 905-769-0798.

This article was published as sponsored content in Christian Courier.