New Financial Literacy Education Policy – Opportunity or Threat?

More than ever, I believe our youth need a solid foundation of financial literacy education to help navigate their future. This is one reason I was pleased to see the CBC report the ‘Ontario’s Minister of Education Mitzie Hunter announced on twitter last week that Ontario is currently reviewing the careers studies course. “We will be updating the Ontario curriculum careers course to have a dedicated module for financial literacy,” said Hunter.’  You can read the full article by Natalie Nanowski, CBC News, November 8, 2016.

While I am excited for Ontario high school students to receive this critical education, my mind immediately turned to how the policy change might impact charities engaged in this work, specifically ABC Literacy, JA Canada and Prosper Canada.

“…the Ontario curriculum careers course to have a dedicated module for financial literacy,” said Hunter.

Money Matters is a free introductory financial literacy program for adult learners provided by ABC Literacy Canada. Our workbooks are used in classrooms across Canada, and are full of learning and activities that can be adapted according to the needs of individual groups.  (SourceABC Literacy Canada)

JA Canada empowers students to make smart, lifelong financial choices. Through our financial literacy programs, students learn how to create and manage wealth. They develop skills in areas such as budgeting, investing and creating financial plans. (SourceJA Canada)

As Canada’s leading national champion of financial empowerment, Prosper Canada [we] work with governments, businesses, and community groups to develop and promote financial policies, programs and resources that transform lives and foster the prosperity of all Canadians. Our aim is to ensure that all financially vulnerable Canadians have access to the financial policies, programs, products and advice they need to build their financial well-being. (SourceProsper Canada)

700,000 students attend more than 850 publicly funded secondary schools in Ontario  A much as I welcome the Ministry announcement, I am equally confused by the charities’ lack of public response or information on their websites detailing how they intend to engage with the provincial government on policy, curriculum and delivery and protect their charitable interests in serving the community. With change comes opportunity and this is one needs to be capitalized on.

The Ontario Ministry of Education reports “approximately 700,000 students attend more than 850 publicly funded secondary schools in Ontario.” With these sizable numbers the significance of a Ministry policy and standardized financial literacy curriculum is profound and I imagine it will present unprecedented opportunity and threat for the aforementioned charities related to policy, access to schools, fundraising and the recruitment of volunteer mentors to deliver their programs.

What will come is anyone’s guess, however I would encourage the charity leaders to come together and set out plans to navigate the change. This is one story that I will be watching with great interest as it unfolds.

P.S. November is Financial Literacy Month in Canada. To learn more, visit Government of Canada

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