Did you know that in order to graduate with an OSSD (Ontario Secondary School Diploma), students must complete 40 hours of “volunteer” community service? The compulsory volunteer hours, implemented by the Ministry of Education as part of the curriculum in 1999, are intended to develop in students an understanding of community involvement and civic responsibility.
According to the Ministry documents, students can complete their volunteer hours, or community involvement activities in a variety of settings. Across Ontario, school boards develop lists of eligible volunteer activities, which can take place in businesses, not-for-profit organizations, public sector institutions and other informal community venues.
The 40 hours of community involvement activities can take place at any time during a student’s secondary schooling. They can span a range of varied activities or they can be accumulated in one setting, but they must be complete before graduation. One of the stipulations of the volunteer community service program is that students cannot be paid for their involvement.
In consultation with parents, guidance counsellors and other school administrators, students select their community involvement activities and fill out the “Notification of Planned Community Involvement Activities” form. When the volunteer hours are complete, students submit the “Completion of Community Involvement Activities” form, and the sponsor – i.e. the supervising organization of the volunteer activity – verifies the information and signs it.
Generally, schools supply students with copies of the board’s document “Information on the Community Involvement Diploma Requirement”, so keep an eye out for it and arrange to discuss your students’ volunteer plans with them.