By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Grade 10 students in Ontario can add financial planning and online privacy awareness to their subjects this fall.
The Ford government unveiled its new career studies curriculum for the 2019-2020 school year, which will include learning about financial literacy.
Education Minister Stephen Lecce recently showcased the updated curriculum.
According to a ministry media release, the course will be mandatory for graduation, and will include a focus on career pathways, specifically jobs in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines.
The course will also encompass material on the importance of paying bills and using credit responsibly, and the implications of social media.
Students will also be required to create a budget for their first year after graduation, and study the different options they have to pay for post-secondary education.
“Our mission is to ensure that our young people are better prepared to transition from the journey of learning seamlessly into the workforce,” Lecce said. “With an emphasis on STEM, financial literacy, and transferable skills, we are better aligning our curriculum with the labour market, to ensure our young people can optimize their skills and get access to good-paying jobs.”
Lecce said Ontario’s education system has failed to inspire students to consider “the jobs of tomorrow.”
“This transformation will help inspire our students to think big, to aspire for better jobs, and to support the creation of a credible career pathway so they can succeed in a competitive global market.”
Dr. Amir Akbari is a researcher with the Faculty of Business and Information Technology at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa.
Akbari told The Oshawa Express his first response to the new curriculum was to ask why it isn’t already being taught.
Students of this age will be making significant financial decisions for the future, he adds.
“It will prepare them for the immediate years to come,” he says.
In his position, Akbari says after speaking with students, he often realizes they have little or no knowledge when it comes to finances.
For example, some students don’t realize when they use a credit card the interest is much higher than a line of credit.
“If you need so much money, why don’t you get a line of credit, which is going to be more forgiving,” he says.
Akbari says teens and young adults are dealing with much more complex financial products today, while also making money earlier.
With this in mind, he believes there is a need to educate them sooner than later.
When asked if parents should be taking a greater role in teaching their children, Akbari says not everyone can provide good advice.
He compares it to giving suggestions about a proper diet.
“If you have a society of overweight people, on average, not everyone is following a proper diet. These are things you may think parents need to teach, but we have this personal debt issue even for the parents, so I’m not even sure if the parents are good advisors,” he says.
The government has pledged $2.25 million to help school boards roll out the new curriculum in September.