Incorporate Mandatory Financial Literacy into Alberta Classrooms!
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As indicated by a survey released by Alberta Education in April 2017, Albertans increasingly believe that teaching financial literacy should be made a priority in our educational system. According to Education Minister David Eggen, "90 per cent of respondents supported the introduction of financial literacy as early as elementary school." While Alberta Education does currently offer courses in Financial Management in high school through the career and technology studies program, these courses are optional.
Having worked in the financial industry in various capacities for nearly 15 years, I strongly feel that at least 1 mandatory course in personal finance is critical – both at the high school and post-secondary levels. Over the years, I have seen so many individual Canadians make significant financial mistakes that could have easily been prevented with the right knowledge. These mistakes tend to fall into certain patterns including taking on too much debt, over-spending, not saving enough for retirement, purchasing the wrong type of amount of insurance coverage (or none at all), making unwise or excessively risky investments, not having basic estate planning documents, and not knowing where or how to access and evaluate financial advice.
Basic personal finance is by no means rocket science and if students have a basic understanding of mathematics, they are ready and able to learn about personal finance. The personal finance curriculum should cover basic investing, insurance, and estate planning as well as an overview of the financial advisory industry in Canada and related resources so students know where to turn for help when required.
Financial Literacy is a critical life skill that is not fully taught in our educational system. As a result, many adults end up making significant financial mistakes that could have been prevented with the right knowledge. A sound grounding in personal finance is going to be even more important for today’s youth as they will face an uncertain job market with ongoing technology disruption, as well as asset prices that are already very elevated. When today’s middle-aged Canadians and seniors made big financial errors in their younger years, many were able to recover due to the rising prices of homes and investment assets. Unfortunately, today’s youth will likely not have that luxury. That is why financial literacy is more important for today’s youth, than ever before.
I am petitioning to have an introductory personal finance made mandatory in Alberta high schools, and a more advanced course mandatory at all Alberta post-secondary educations. We need to act now! Let’s equip today’s students so that they can be better for prepared tomorrow and avoid life altering financial mistakes.
If you are in favour of this petition, please share this with your network so more attention can be drawn to this cause. A similar petition in Ontario was recently successful with bringing a pilot program in financial education to Ontario high schools.
I would like to bring this petition to the Alberta Legislature, specifically to the attention of the Ministries of Education and Advanced Education. If you would like to also sign the handwritten petition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your support of this important initiative.
Shamez Kassam MBA, CFA
Author: Your Money’s Worth – The Essential Guide to Financial Advice for Canadians
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