Financial literacy coming to Ontario school curriculum

A Toronto councillor believes that young people with money managing skills lead fuller lives.

This fall, the Ontario government will introduce financial literacy to the school curriculum for students in Grades 4 to 12.

The Ministry of Education will work with the Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization of the Ontario Securities Commission, to develop the program. The OSC has donated about $2 million for multimedia resources, including training for teachers and video for electronic activities for classrooms.

Josh Matlow, a Toronto city councillor and former school trustee, is encouraging the plan.

“Having basic financial literacy skills can support a successful life,” he said. “Without these skills, life can be far more stressful and difficult.”

Matlow said too many students don’t understand as the use of credit cards, budgeting and spending. He explained that students should learn these skills at an early age, not “learning them as they go,” in order to avoid stressful consequences with finances and relate to their real life experiences.

“By delivering their financial literacy education through a combination of reading materials, role-playing, theatrical exercises such as mock stock markets or (how to) start your own business, that can make it a lot of fun,” Matlow said.

Mike Feensera, spokesman for the Minister of Education, believes that strong literacy skills are important to promote lifetime achievements.

“We are very excited to have this to be integrated in the fall,” he said. “Parents and students will find this very valuable to them.”

A 2009 study by Youthography, commissioned by the Investor Education fund, found that only 28 per cent of students felt they were knowledgeable about money and made good spending decisions. It also found that only 38 per cent of students felt prepared to manage their money after graduation.