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Ontario’s K-12 International Education Strategy: Policy Impacts on Teacher Education for International, Intercultural and Multilingual Sensibilities


While the need to internationalize teacher education is recognized by scholars/practitioners, little attention is paid to the role of policy/policy-makers in supporting this endeavor. This chapter focuses on the enactment of Ontario’s K-12 international education strategy by four key policy actors: the Ontario Ministry of Education, the College of Teachers, School Boards and Faculties of Education in realizing (or not) the internationalization of teacher preparedness. A siloed approach, conflict in policy messaging, overlooked policy alignments and weak policy framing result in diminishing the relevance and importance of internationalization of teacher preparedness to meet Ontario’s international education objectives.

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Fig. 1


  1. 1.

    Responsible for teacher certification and licencing—further details in the following sections.

  2. 2.

    International students are those who move to Canada for the purposes of pursuing their studies and reside temporarily based on their student visa.

  3. 3.

    The Government of Canada acknowledged its harmful colonial legacy of residential schools and announced the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Its calls to action (specifically actions 62–65) have direct implications for the K-12 school systems in terms of curriculum development, integration of indigenous knowledge culture and language education, teacher education, intercultural understanding and necessary funding to meet these objectives (TRC, 2015).

  4. 4.

    The full Strategy can be accessed at:

  5. 5.

    Students staying for six months or less.

  6. 6.

    Here it is important to provide some context to public schooling in Ontario. Most school boards have been facing low enrollments from decreasing domestic students in the public educational system, especially in certain regions of the province. The total K-12 enrolments declined in Ontario by approximately 100,000 between 1997/98 and 2015/16 (Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity, 2018). Between 2011 and 2016, Ontario secondary schools’ enrolment declined by 63,742 students (Institute for Competitiveness and Prosperity, 2018). The shrinking student body has meant less operation funding for school boards. It is within this context that Strategy speaks to the value of international education and in particular the recruitment of international students to fill this void in spaces and funding.

  7. 7.

    While education in public schools remains the dominant form of education in Canada, some parents opt to send their children to private independent schools. This study focuses on the public system.

  8. 8.

    Ontario has two publically funded school systems, Catholic and Public. The school boards are divided almost equally between Catholic and Public. 63 are English speaking and 12 are French speaking (Ministry of Education, 2017). English and/or French is taught as a second language in Ontario schools and many English speaking schools offer extended French programs. Many school boards have also implemented an International Languages program allowing interested students to develop their language skills in languages other than English or French.

  9. 9.

    International partnerships and exchanges established mainly through their own networks with international school boards and other Ministry initiatives.

  10. 10.

    The Bennett scale, also called the Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity (DMIS), was developed by Dr. Milton Bennett. The framework describes the different ways in which people can react to cultural differences:

  11. 11.

    The Long Term Occasional (LTO) teacher list includes successful applicants listed by seniority according to his/her date of hire.

  12. 12.

    The Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) is a cross-cultural assessment of intercultural competence that is used by individuals and organizations to build intercultural competence to achieve international and domestic diversity and inclusion goals and outcomes:

  13. 13.

    OCT stipulates that a teacher education program must include 20% in practice teaching that is a minimum of 80 days of practice teaching supervised by the program provider.

  14. 14.

    International practicum in-service opportunities are open to all teacher candidates.

  15. 15.

    The four discourses we outline parallel the four themes identified by Martin et al. (2017): (1) abyssal (or colonial) thinking; (2) the hegemony of westernized versions of what counts as education; (3) discourses of marginalization and othering; and (4) the hegemony of the English language.


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Correspondence to Roopa Desai Trilokekar .

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Trilokekar, R.D., El Masri, A. (2019). Ontario’s K-12 International Education Strategy: Policy Impacts on Teacher Education for International, Intercultural and Multilingual Sensibilities. In: Martin, D., Smolcic, E. (eds) Redefining Teaching Competence through Immersive Programs. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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