Published on March 18, 2022 at 3:09 p.m.
According to a new Halton District School Board (HDSB) survey, Muslim students represent the largest demographic group among public elementary school students in Milton, Oakville and Burlington.
The HDSB’s 2020-2021 student census, which is the first census the board has conducted for students and staff, found that of primary school respondents, 7,667 (27%) said they were followers of the Islam.
A total of 6,991 students (23%) said they were Christians, while a total of 6,234 (22%) said they followed no religion.
Census data also revealed that students self-identified as Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jews, while several others self-identified as atheists or agnostics.
David Boag, Associate Director of Education, said insauga.com that since this is the first year that the council has conducted the census, there is no historical data to compare these results to.
“The HDSB conducted the voluntary census of students and staff to collect and report identity-based data as required by the anti-racism law, 2017 and Ontario’s Education Equity Action Plan. This is the first time the HDSB has conducted a student or staff census, so we don’t have any past data to compare,” Boag said.
The numbers, however, appear to reveal Halton Region’s shift from a historic Christian-based society to one with more diverse and ethnic backgrounds.
“The results of the student and staff census are intended to help each community ensure that we are meeting the needs of all HDSB students and staff,” Boag said.
“This data provides us with new insights into who our students and staff are to fully understand the needs of all staff, students and families. This will help support achievement and well-being, identify and eliminate discriminatory practices, systemic barriers, and biases to provide equitable opportunities and outcomes, and allocate resources to support students and programs where the needs are greatest.
The study, conducted over a six-month period, shows that Christianity is still the most important religion for 3,427 (23%) high school students. Next come people with no religious affiliation with 3,007 (22%) and Muslims with 2,336 (17%).
The student census also confidentially collected data on student identity, including mother tongue, ethnic and racial background, gender identity and, for older students, sexual orientation.
According to the HDSB, the census, with the help of the board, continues to “examine disparities and disproportionality in opportunities and outcomes for students and staff, prepare action plans that align with the HDSB multi-year strategic plan 2020-2024 and to continue to engage with stakeholders.
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