What are schools doing to improve financial literacy? And is it

As more provinces add new materials for their students, it will always be important to have parents involved in teaching.

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“If high schools offered a drama class, why couldn’t they do the same for finances?”

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This was one of the responses to an open-ended question posed by the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education. Its 2018 survey interviewed 6,000 Canadians between the ages of 12 and 17.

The survey aimed to determine if personal finances are a topic of real interest.

CFEE President Gary Rabbior has been on the ground advocating for financial literacy for 40 years. He now detects “a significant shift in the momentum that is building” as provinces “are increasingly looking to do more, they’re looking to be bolder in the kinds of things they do. They seek to be more collaborative.

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Four years after the survey, Canadian provinces are still on track to improve the financial literacy of Canadians. Students are also turning to their parents and social media for advice on managing their finances.

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Some studies say school-based financial literacy programs are linked to less debt and more assets among students. Nan Morrison, president and CEO of the US-based Council for Economic Education, also says financial literacy is the key to building economic habits that can help overcome economic changes, such as rise in inflation that Canadians experience.

Curriculum changes

In 2019, Ontario’s new Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce, announced that Ontario secondary schools would include financial literacy instruction as part of Ontario’s revised and mandatory career studies course. 10th year.

Other provinces have also made changes either to add financial literacy courses or integrate the subject in other programs.

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“BC, for example, has integrated it into its math program. Alberta has a lot of that in its Career and Life Management program, as well as a number of other areas,” says Rabbior.

In early May, Alberta announced it would invest $5 million in basic financial education programs for students in grades 3 through 12 over the next three years. CFEE is one of three organizations with which the province partners.

“Newfoundland and Labrador has just created a new Grade 10 curriculum that includes a strong financial literacy component. In fact, they use our ‘Money and Youth’ book as a basic resource for this program,” says Rabbior.

Influence of social media as a learning tool

Social media has become a go-to resource for vital information such as daily news and purchasing decisionsespecially for those under 25. A portion of this demographic also uses social media as a source of financial information.

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A survey of GOBankingTariffs, which surveyed 1,000 Americans between the ages of 18 and 24, found that the source of financial information for 22.7% of respondents was parents or family. More than a third (38.8%) said social media was their main source.

However, there is a willingness to learn from other sources, which provides an opportunity for educators to bridge the gap. When asked how they would like to know more about money, more than 60% answered at home, around 54% from teachers and 42% from guests or experts.

How does Canada compare to the rest?

While Canada still has a long way to go in strengthening financial education, it actually ranks among the top five most financially savvy countries in the world, according to S&P Global Ratings’ Financial Literacy Survey. 2014.

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Denmark, Norway and Sweden were in the top spots, with scores of 71%, meaning that 71% of their populations are financially literate. Canada got 68%, tied with Israel.

The S&P survey consisted of interviews with more than 150,000 adults in more than 140 countries.

Each adult was tested on their knowledge of four topics: risk diversification, inflation, numeracy and compounding interest. According The S&P report, a person was considered financially literate if they were able to accurately explain at least three of the four concepts. Numeracy and inflation were the best understood topics, while risk diversification was the least understood.

The survey may be a good example of how finance education programs can create more financially literate populations. In Denmark, financial education is compulsory between grades 7 and 9. In Sweden, financial education is part of the school curriculum from the first year.

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Are parents also equipped to be teachers?

The combination of having a financially educated familyand formal finance education will most likely produce a student with a sense of money.

Unfortunately, this is not a reality for all Canadians.

A survey published by TD Bank in October 2021, showed that 33% of Canadian parents surveyed are unconvinced about setting a sound financial example for their children. The survey also revealed that 45% of Canadian parents surveyed do not have household budget.

In addition, only 29% of parents surveyed consider their household to be in “excellent” or “good” financial health. “Good” financial status means the ability to pay bills on time or have manageable debt and savings.

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It starts at home

No matter how much progress schools have made in integrating a formal financial literacy program, the first step still lies with parents. Parents can help their children learn skills and habits that can make them more likely to be financially successful later in life.

“We talk a lot about these things at home, and so our kids, they all have bank accounts, and we talk a lot about savings. Our 20 year old daughter has an RRSP already,” said Shameela Shakeel, education advocate and co-chair of York Communities for Public Education.

Shakeel has four children, and three of them already have jobs.

“They’re already thinking in terms of ‘oh, if I want to buy something, I have to work X hours to be able to afford it,'” the mum said.

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“But for kids in basic math classes, they might not understand that,” Shakeel said. “So maybe we should have it as a mandatory workshop for all 11th or 12th graders.”

Shakeel describes herself as lucky since she comes from a business-oriented family, and this knowledge is also passed on to her own children.

As the government tries to do its part by normalizing financial education, parents must also be their children’s primary teachers. Home learning can fill the gap between information students might find online or learn at school.

This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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Sarah J. Greer