Ontario Expands Holocaust Education for High School Students

Ontario is going to mandate Holocaust education in high school — on top of its recent announcement of curriculum changes for elementary students. Richard Lautens / Toronto Star file photo The Star

Ontario’s government has announced an expansion of mandatory Holocaust education in the province’s high schools, starting in September 2025. Grade 10 students will be required to take an expanded learning course that will focus on extreme political ideologies such as fascism, as well as both historical and modern-day antisemitism.

The expansion is part of the government’s commitment to combat the rise of antisemitism and hate. Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement that the course aims to ensure “Never Again” is the legacy left for the next generation. The government seeks to safeguard and promote fundamental Canadian values, including democracy, freedom, civility, and respect.

“We will ensure that ‘Never Again’ is our legacy to the next generation, as we safeguard and promote those fundamental Canadian values of democracy, freedom, civility and respect,” Lecce said.

This follows last year’s introduction of mandatory Holocaust education for Grade 6 elementary students. While similar education was included in the Grade 10 Canadian history curriculum, it mainly focused on how the Holocaust impacted Canadian society and human rights.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

In addition to the expanded course, the government will invest $650,000 in community partnerships to create resources for educators and students. The partnerships include the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, which will create an “Antisemitism Classroom Toolkit.” Other partners are the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Liberation75, the Canadian Society for Yad Veshem, and the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s Holocaust Museum.

Officials say the new course guidelines will be ready by 2025. British Columbia has also pledged to expand Holocaust education by that year.

Lecce has been outspoken on issues related to antisemitism and has condemned terrorism, expressing support for Israel and democracy over tyranny. Last fall, he announced the mandatory Holocaust education for elementary school students and has encouraged other ministers of education across the country to implement similar measures.

Lecce cited a study that found one in three students in Ontario believe the Holocaust is a lie or are unsure if it happened. “By including new mandatory learning in Holocaust education in elementary and secondary schools, we are ensuring students are never bystanders in the face of hate and division,” he said.