Why our education system needs to do more
In Ontario schools, personal finance is not taught to our children.
It’s an issue that is so critical to every person in this province, and yet it is so completely ignored. It’s time for this to change, and it can’t happen soon enough.
According to the Ontario Ministry of Education, our children are taught “Financial Literacy” from grades four through 12.
After spending a few mind numbing hours reviewing the website, it’s apparent that what our children are being taught is not enough. Essentially the Ministry of Education has decided to incorporate “financial literacy” into the existing school curriculum.
The government defines financial literacy as “having the knowledge and skills to make responsible economic and financial decision with confidence”.
That’s great, but why aren’t we teaching our children about personal finance? What’s needed is a compulsory, stand-alone, course in high school.
Every student should graduate from high school knowing about:
Budgets - How to make one, and how to stick to it
Debt - how it works and how it affects you, both good and bad debt
Interest - how compound interest can be very harmful, but also very valuable if used properly
Saving - the importance of saving, and the concept of paying yourself first. Learning to live within their means.
Investing - how to do it, what you can invest in, and why investing is so important.
The Ministry website goes on to talk about how it’s important for parents to talk to their children about finances. Again, that’s great, but where do the parents get their information from?
Don’t forget, those parents went through the same schooling as their children.
If the parents were never properly taught about personal finance, how can we expect them to teach their children?
An online search for post-secondary, or adult learning, personal finance courses, found only one match. Ryerson University is offering a one-time, 4 hour workshop. That’s nowhere near enough time to even scratch the surface of the subject.
It’s a massive gap in our education system that needs immediate attention. You graduate from high school with no knowledge of personal finance, then you go onto post-secondary education where you can learn how to handle other people’s money, or about business finance, but you are never taught how to handle our own finances.
Is it any wonder people struggle so mightily with this issue?
Those of you who have already attended post-secondary education, or those of you with children who recently attended, likely remember one of the first things you encounter when you arrive for your post-secondary school visits, a credit card booth, and how easy it was to get one.
So there you are with no personal financial education, your new found independence and freedom as an adult, and a shiny new credit card. A perfect storm to derail you financially just as you’re about to start your journey.
This isn’t to say that there is a lack of information available, there’s a great deal of excellent information available online for those who want to learn.
The problem is that, by the time most people get around to researching this topic, they’re already in financial trouble.
In 2014 Manitoba introduced a mandatory high school personal finance course, it’s vitally important that every Province follow suit.
In the long run, these investments in education would pay off tremendously, not only with people individually, but with society as a whole.
This is certainly not the first article to be written about this issue, and it won’t be the last. However, this topic is so important that it requires everyone to stand up and be heard.
As a society we need to tell our leaders that we want, no, we need them to step up and make personal finance a mandatory part of our children’s education.