Muslim students represent largest demographic in public elementary schools in Milton, Oakville and Burlington


Published March 18, 2022 at 3:09 pm

Mississauga school

Muslim students represent the largest demographic for those in public elementary schools in Milton, Oakville and Burlington, according to a new survey by the Halton District School Board (HDSB).

HDSB’s 2020-2021 Student Census, which is the first census the board has conducted for students and staff, revealed that out of the respondents in elementary grades, 7,667 (27 per cent), said they are followers of Islam.

A total of 6,991 students (23 per cent) said they were Christians, while a total of 6,234 (22 per cent) indicated that they follow no religion.

Data from the census also revealed that students listed themselves as being Hindu, Sikh, Buddist and Jewish while several others said they are Atheist or Agnostic.

David Boag, Associate Director of Education, told that since this is the first year the board has conducted the census, there is no previous data to compare these findings to.

“The HDSB conducted the voluntary student and staff census to gather and report identity-based data, as required by the Anti-Racism Act, 2017 and Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan. This is the first time the HDSB has conducted a student or staff census so we do not have previous data to compare to,” said Boag.

The numbers, however, appear to reveal Halton Region’s shift from a historic Christian-based society to one with a more diverse and ethnic background.

“The findings of the student and staff census are intended to support every community to ensure we are meeting the needs of all students and staff in the HDSB,” said Boag.

“This data provides us with new information about who our students and staff are to fully understand the needs of all staff, students and families. This will help support success and well-being, identify and eliminate discriminatory practices, systemic barriers and bias to provide equitable opportunities and outcomes, and allocate resources to support students and programs where the need is greatest.”

The study, conducted over a six-month period, shows that Christianity is still the most prominent religion for high school students 3,427 (23 percent). Those with no religious affiliation are next with 3,007 (22 percent) and Muslims at 2,336 (17 percent).

The student census also confidentially gathered data about students’ identities including their first languages, ethnic and racial backgrounds, gender identities and for older students, sexual orientation.

According to the HDSB, the census, with help of the board, continues to “examine disparities and disproportionalities in opportunities and outcomes for students and staff, prepare action plans that align with the HDSB Multi-Year Strategic Plan 2020-2024​ and continue to engage with stakeholders.”

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