Cana­di­ans among the world’s most fi­nan­cially lit­er­ate

But, as it gets more com­plex, who’s teach­ing the next gen­er­a­tion?

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FINANCE - BY KENN OLIVER Kenn Oliver kenn.oliver@thetele­gram.com Twit­ter: ken­no­liver79

Novem­ber isn’t just the time of year when men grow em­bar­rass­ingly bad mous­taches in the name of cancer re­search and peo­ple start wrack­ing up Christ­mas debt, it’s also fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy month.

We, Cana­di­ans, are among the world lead­ers in fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy – the knowl­edge, skills and con­fi­dence re­quired to make re­spon­si­ble fi­nan­cial de­ci­sions. In an in­ter­na­tional sur­vey of fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy com­pe­ten­cies among adults com­pleted by the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion De­vel­oped (OECD) and the In­ter­na­tional Net­work on Fi­nan­cial Ed­u­ca­tion (INFE), Canada ranked third among 30 coun­tries.

There’s also hope for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions, as Cana­dian youth who were polled fin­ished tied for sec­ond with Bel­gium.

And, as it turns out, they’re keen to learn more.

The Cana­dian Foun­da­tion for Eco­nomic Ed­u­ca­tion sur­veyed more than 6,000 youth aged 12 to 17 to gauge, among other things, what they wanted to learn about and how they wanted to learn it.

Earn­ing, man­ag­ing, mon­i­tor­ing, sav­ing, and in­vest­ing money topped the list. And, over­whelm­ingly, they want to learn all that at home and at school.

Learn­ing at home, whether it’s from a par­ent or guardian, may be the best op­tion, but it as­sumes those in­di­vid­u­als have a firm grasp that they can pass on to im­pres­sion­able youth.

And those with­out are likely too em­bar­rassed to show their child how lit­tle they know about a cru­cial life skill.

“We can say to the par­ents, ‘teach your kids,’ but the prob­lem is some par­ents don't know them­selves. So how do we gain ac­cess to the par­ents and teach them to teach their kids?’” asks Grant Mad­di­gan, a fi­nan­cial ad­vi­sor with As­sante Wealth Man­age­ment.

As for ac­quir­ing knowl­edge in the class­room, it’s start­ing to hap­pen in some ju­ris­dic­tions around Canada.

On­tario started a pi­lot pro­gram in 28 schools last year. In Man­i­toba, it’s cov­ered in cour­ses from Grades 4 to 12, but the provin­cial gov­ern­ment is in­tent on in­te­grat­ing fi­nan­cial themes into other cur­ric­ula ar­eas. In Bri­tish Columbia, fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy is taught in ev­ery grade within a re­cently re­vised math cur­ricu­lum.

In Nova Sco­tia, where stu­dents are at the Cana­dian av­er­age in fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy, it’s taught through ele­men­tary and ju­nior high and ex­panded upon in high school when stu­dents are re­quired to take fi­nan­cial math­e­mat­ics. Prince Ed­ward Is­land starts kids on the path in Grade 1 and, once in high school, they must com­plete a course called ca­reer de­vel­op­ment, 25 per cent of which is de­voted to fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion.

As is the case for so many things in New­found­land and Labrador, the province is in the red and it seems as though that fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy isn’t even on the provin­cial gov­ern­ment’s radar.

Premier Dwight Ball’s task force on im­prov­ing ed­u­ca­tional out­comes, re­leased this past July, doesn’t even use the words.

“They do a lit­tle bit of the ed­u­ca­tion, but it's not as struc­tured as it needs to be,” says Mad­di­gan, who, along with MUN class­mate Jor­den DeLouche, co-founded Fi­nan­cial Lit­er­acy for Youth (FLY), a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that in­tro­duces teens to the sub­ject in an at­tempt to bet­ter pre­pare them for a sta­ble fi­nan­cial foot­ing.

The pair have lob­bied gov­ern­ment for change in the ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum, specif­i­cally by in­clud­ing it in the manda­tory ca­reer de­vel­op­ment course.

“Teach­ers I've talked to are say­ing the course doesn't have enough con­tent to give it for a full year. They're call­ing us and try­ing to find guest speak­ers to come in and talk to their classes be­cause they have noth­ing else to teach,” says Mad­di­gan.

“As an ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum in New­found­land, we need to start pre­par­ing peo­ple for the real world. I can tell you on one hand how many times I've used Shake­speare since I learned about it. I don't even need a finger.”

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