Ontario Education Number (OEN)

Information for Parents and Students

What is the Ontario Education Number (OEN)?

The OEN is a student identification number that will be assigned by the Ministry of Education to elementary and secondary students across the province. The number, which is unique to every student, will be used as the key identifier on a student's school records, and will follow the student through his or her elementary and secondary education. The OEN is nine digits long (eight digits, plus a check digit), randomly assigned, and tied to stable information about the student (name, gender, date of birth).

The OEN will make it easier to keep reliable records on the movement and progress of individual students through elementary and secondary school, while also protecting their privacy. In addition, it will greatly facilitate the collection and analysis of accurate and timely data about education in Ontario. In fact, assigning an OEN to students across Ontario is the first step in implementing a new data-gathering and -management system that will benefit everyone in Ontario who has an interest in education.

Why do students need to have a number?

In a large and diverse education system such as Ontario's, a standard, centrally assigned student number is the best way to identify individual students. Using a number to collect and store data helps avoid the errors and confusion that can arise when names are misspelled, changed, or mistaken for other, similar names. It also helps to protect the identity of individual students.

Most provinces in Canada already provide students with a standard identification number.

How will the OEN be used?

The OEN will be used:

  • on student records. It will appear on the student's Ontario Student Record (OSR) folder and related forms;
  • on applications made by the student for enrolment in an educational program, school, or institution;
  • on assessments, tests, and evaluations of the student's achievement.

Will the Ministry of Education issue OEN identification cards to students?


Why does the government need information on students?

Schools and school boards collect data on such things as student attendance, student achievement, course choices, and special needs. The ministry uses this information to track improvements made to the education system, to identify areas that require further improvement, and to analyse trends and identify future needs. The OEN and the new information-management system will help generate more accurate, more reliable, and more complete statistics, providing a better basis for assessing needs and for developing policies to meet them. The improved quality of information will also result in improved reporting to Ontario taxpayers on the province's education system.

The provincial government distributes funds to school boards based on information that the boards provide. The accuracy of the information gathered is essential to ensuring that funding is allocated appropriately.

Will the privacy of personal information be protected?

Yes. Security is a built-in component of the OEN system and of the number itself.

Because the number is randomly assigned, personal information about the student cannot be inferred from it.

In addition, the "check digit" included in the number will identify it as a legitimate OEN.

Access to the data in the OEN system will be strictly limited, and the database containing personal information will be maintained by the ministry in a fully secure environment, protected by the most up-to-date technology.

The information gathered about students will be used only for educational purposes. The ways in which the data will be used must comply with Ontario's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Privacy Code of the Canadian Standards Association, and the privacy protection guidelines issued by the government's Management Board Secretariat. Upholding the letter and the spirit of these laws and guidelines has been a fundamental principle in the design of the OEN system and the information-gathering and -management system it makes possible.

Can parents and students access the student's personal information?

Yes. The new system will not change the rules governing access to and disclosure of personal information and protection of privacy.

What do schools and school boards think of the new system? Will they benefit from it?

Schools, boards, other partners in education, and various experts have been consulted extensively about, and are active participants in, the design of the new system. When fully implemented, the system will be easy to use and will reduce the administrative demands connected with the collection and reporting of data. Officials responsible for information management in their schools and boards support the introduction of the new system, and have made significant contributions to its development.

How can I find out more?

For further information about the OEN system, contact the Ministry of Education at (416) 325-2929 or
1-800-387-5514. For education-related information for each of Ontario's district school boards, see the board profiles posted on the ministry's website.

ISBN 0-7794-4234-2