Financial literacy in education system

Nov 7, 2016 | News

By: Alana MacLeod

The Ontario government is enhancing financial literacy learning in elementary and secondary schools, an initiative that college and university students today say they wish they had while they were in school.

University or college students like Marina Eskander, 22-year-old Humber College student are unaware of how to create a budget or even file their personal taxes.

“I never learned financial stuff in high school,” said Eskander.

“The only time I learned was at Humber’s Human Resources. They taught me some stuff about accounting but I’m not very good at it.”

Humber College student Harneet Kaur, 20, also admitted she knows nothing about taxes.

“I don’t budget, I don’t think people in Canada are taught how to budget. My parents do everything for me,” she said.

Ontario’s Ministry of Education say they are working on this and have been since 2011.

“Preparing students to be financially literate is essential to student success and a stronger economy,” said Ontario’s Minister of Education, Mitzie Hunter in a statement given to Humber News. 

“By learning about financial literacy, students will have the skills they need to thrive now and throughout the rest of their lives.”

Heather Irwin, Ministry of Education’s Senior Media Coordinator said the Financial Literacy Education Initiative was introduced into the curriculum in 2011 “to further enhance financial literacy.”

“The goal of the initiative is to make financial literacy education a part of every child’s learning by enhancing and embedding financial topics and concepts throughout the provincial curriculum in grades 4 to 12,” said Irwin.

Irwin said the Ministry of Education is taking an “integrated approach to embed financial literacy concepts within the provincial curriculum” as opposed to teaching them all of these vital skills in one single course where students might find themselves overwhelmed with information.

“The intent of the initiative is to support students in learning financial skills such as understanding money, consumer awareness, personal finances, budgeting and money management through the curriculum, which will help them develop financial literacy skills for life,” said Irwin.

The current curriculum breaks down like this.

Elementary school students learn:

  • How to save money whether it’s to buy something expensive that they want, or to save indefinitely.
  • The differences between ‘wants’ and ‘needs’ in a financial sense.
  • How to protect their personal information when banking or shopping online.

 Secondary school students learn: 

  • To become more knowledgeable and critical consumers.
  • To understand and breakdown advertisements.
  • How to budget and manage expensive one-time purchases, such as buying their first car.

The Ministry of Education did not respond directly to questions about why taxes and tax filing are not included in the initiative. 

“The ministry will continue to work with educators, parents and students to inform next steps in this curriculum review including timing and content,” Irwin said.