Financial literacy education for Canadian youth now

How to deliver financial literacy education for youth now

Financial literacy education for youth is critical 

We can also agree that there has been very little progress since 2005 when the OECD highlighted that critical need.  So what’s taking so long??? Why can’t we do better?       (We can)

It’s 2015: Let’s use E-Learning to deliver Financial Literacy Education 


Surveys show that not enough families talk about money management at home. A designated financial capability program inside the curriculum across each school board is what’s required for youth in Canada. But, the current patchwork theme of programs & resources and an “integrated” view to Financial Literacy being delivered into Canada’s current school curriculum which depends on motivated & financially literate teachers doesn’t work.

My youngest son will graduate from high school in Ontario this June and like his older brother, he can not recall any mention of Money Management, Interest, Borrowing, Saving, Investing, Budgeting or Planning in any of their courses outside of Accounting. Granted, we have only covered 3 high schools in Ontario, but neither son has been provided any lessons that relate to financial money management matters in any of their subjects in any apparent yet say “Integrated Way”.  Hence, my ‘crankiness”.

My sons however, are some of the lucky ones.  They are the sons of an accountant and an investment manager & so the talk about money and being a good consumer is frequent in our home. But what about all of the other students?

The need for financial literacy education is evident in a consumerism obsessed world

The need for youth to have appropriate financial literacy skills is only growing more critical. Life is a lot more complicated these days.  “Consumerism” is rampant. Marketing is aggressive & excessive,. Credit card applications are easy to come by. Our own Governments are now in the business of supporting gambling, in the form of tickets, online betting, Bingo & slots. It’s critical for students to learn basic if not intermediate skills, to become good consumers and navigate the good from the bad. But it’s also critical to the future economy of Canada.

Financial literacy skills are also critical for the 46% of youth who are expected to start a business after graduation.

The results of a study commissioned by the Investor Education Fund for both 2012 and 2009 make the case for how far we have not progressed in the area of Youth Financial Literacy

IEF 2012 Survey on Youth Fin Lit


  • Only 26% of students felt they were knowledgeable about money & that they made good spending decisions (28% in 2009)
  • 59% of students felt that schools should provide them with information on managing money after graduation (57% in 2009)
  • 70% of students thought it was important to learn about managing personal finance (64% in 2009)
  • Only 39% of students felt prepared to manage their money after graduation (38% in 2009)

We are failing our Youth which is detrimental to them and the economy of Canada in general, long term and I fail to believe that the problem is about a need for more financial literacy resources.

There are lots of great and unbiased materials and resources available:

  • The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) provides a Financial Literacy database of resources
  • EduGains provides resources for Ontario Elementary & Secondary School Educators
  • The Canadian Bankers Association provides resources for students across Canada
  • Junior Achievement provides tools and games and resources specific to youth
  • The Investor Education Fund provides money resources for students, parents & teachers

I think the real problem is more about delivery

I think that it’s clear from the lack of progress to date as well as the urgency of the need that we can’t deliver financial literacy education by way of traditional methods for youth in particular.

I believe Financial Literacy education can be delivered efficiently and effectively without any further delay with the help of unbiased professionals & financial organizations using technology that exists today.

Technology is changing the way we do everything so why are we not using technology to deliver financial literacy education ? 

Leveraging technology to deliver a Canada wide Financial Literacy program has outstanding potential to benefit youth who have grown up in a technology enabled world.

While I’m no expert, I believe e-learning offered in a classroom setting (termed “blended e-learning”) offers additional benefits. Teachers already have the experience required to facilitate active discussion and learning but the challenge of educating teachers on how to deliver financial literacy education in particular seems to be one of the large obstacles getting in the way of teaching financial literacy education in a traditional way:

“I think so many people – myself included – don’t feel we do this [handle money] properly in our own lives, so we would need the tools to confidently teach the proper information to our students” (Comment from a teacher Reference: A sound investment-Report from the Working Group on Financial Literacy Ministry of Education-Ontario 2010)


bigstock-E-learning-and-education-conce-43944544We need to change the way that the delivery of financial literacy education is offered.Research has shown that blending online learning with class time is the most effective way to learn. The Internet is plentiful with great examples of e-learning options. Online learning already provides free world-class education for individuals around the world on a variety of topics.

e-learning offers significant advantages as compared to traditional learning for financial literacy education : 

  1. Quicker implementation. E-learning in most jurisdictions already exists with reputable organizations offering e-learning infrastructures already, therefore, there would be no need to invent or re-invent “the wheel”. Learning would not be restricted by the number of trained teachers.
  2. More Cost effective. For a number of reasons including lower delivery costs, less paper and a reduction in learning compression, E-learning is a more cost-effective way to deliver financial literacy across Canada
  3. It’s Consistent, Inclusive & Relevant. Regardless of the Province or the location of the School or the School Board education provided by E-learning would be consistent and equalized thanks to an Internet connection. This is a BIG one.
  4. Better Appeal to a wider range of learning styles. E-learning is facilitated through a variety of activities. A 9 year survey of literature on e-learning states : “Learners learn more using computer based instruction than they do with conventional ways of teaching as measured by higher test scores”
  5. Tracking progress is easier. Standardized testing can be easily included but e-learning lends itself to knowing when a student is having difficulty with a particular topic without them having to raise a hand. This is a BIG advantage over traditional learning.
  6. Less ‘teacher talk’ and more ‘student talk’. Who doesn’t like to hear their teacher talk but sometimes, you can learn more effectively when information is shared between students & ideas are exchanged. Blended E-learning makes that possible. A richer learning experience that is repeatable will help learners learn and retain the course content better
  7. It’s accessible. E-learning can be assessed anytime and anywhere including at home. Parents could also participate more actively (at home) in teaching their children about money and possibly fill their own gaps in financial literacy capabilities

I would suggest would these advantages all would apply to a financial literacy e-learning environment geared towards youth. With the help of unbiased professionals and financial organizations, Ontario and other provinces across Canada could deliver a National Financial Education Program using e-Learning. e-learning is would benefit youth who have grown up in a technology enabled world.

There are 2 great examples of e-learning options that are already in place for delivering Financial Literacy Education that provide a good example of what’s possible:

The Khan Academy has done outstanding work in other areas of education has partnered with the Bank of America on a financial literacy project they call Better Money Habits. This site has become a great resource for Americans to learn about and better navigate their finances It helps consumers build their knowledge and understanding of finances through objective and unbiased videos and tools providing the opportunity to help them become more interested in savings and planning their finances.

MoneySense is a national financial education in Singapore offered by The Institute for Financial Literacy and Singapore Polytechnic & powered by Udemy (another much respected e-learning provider). The free financial education program offers an unbiased financial literacy education program to consumers to enhance their financial literacy over 3 tiers: Basic Money Management, Financial Planning and Investment Know-How

These examples provide an idea of what Canada could deliver with the help of collaboration & cooperation between the various stakeholders:

  • Non-profit financial organizations & financial literacy leaders that have joined together to help move financial literacy forward to date by providing resources
  • The appropriate Federal & Provincial Agencies & Departments involved in Education.
  • Classroom based teachers who would facilitate delivery & discussion in the classroom

For the sake of our youth and our mutual economies, I think we can and must find the room needed in classrooms and curriculum for financial literacy education by prioritizing the critical need that we all acknowledge it to be. Delivering it by way of e-blended learning inside the classrooms would be effective and efficient. E-blended learning will eliminate any further delay & avoid the excessive expense that might otherwise be incurred to educate teachers first and/or require the hiring of additional educators across such a diverse and huge Country geographically.

The Above was sent as an Open Letter to the Financial Literacy Action Group & the Provincial Ministries of Education (Across the Provinces) in October 2011. It was also provided to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada in response to their request for input in December 2014.