Valuable lessons to be learned

It’s one of those classes that some people have wanted to see in the schools for many years.

The provincial government has announced that all Saskatchewan school divisions now have the opportunity to offer financial literacy courses to their students.

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It’s been available in Saskatchewan schools previously, including, thankfully, the Estevan Comprehensive School, but now it will be offered at all school divisions, and it will be available to Grade 11 and 12 students.

This announcement makes you wonder why it took so long for this course to be available on a grander scale. You would hope that there would be someone in each school equipped with the knowledge to teach the class. And you would hope that there would be enough students who would like to take the course.

(You would also hope there are enough parents who are eager to push their students to learn more about financial literacy).

There are things that students will hear in this class that they have likely encountered already, and so it would be good to get more information on how to handle these situations. There are other concepts that they won’t encounter until after they graduate high school and go to university.

And then there are things they won’t have to worry about until they are finished school and focusing on their careers, when the Bank of Mom and Dad shouldn’t be an option like it was in the past.

Of course, financial literacy is something that parents should be teaching and modelling from a relatively early age. Some of these concepts, such as saving and spending, should be discussed when kids get an allowance for the first time. Just because you have money in your pocket, doesn’t mean you have to spend it right away.

As they get older, young people need to know that just because they have money in a bank account, doesn’t mean they have to spend it.

According to a press release from the provincial government, this course will delve into far more than balancing your chequebook. There will be lessons on receiving money or resources as recognition for paid or unpaid work; borrowing money from a financial institution and paying it back; sharing to enhance the lives of others; making good financial investments; and protecting a good financial position.

On the surface, this looks to be a very, very good idea. We’ll see if the execution pans out.

We hear all about how much of a problem debt is in Canada, that non-mortgage debt is dangerously high, that credit card debts are an issue for so many; and that most Canadians wouldn’t have enough money in the bank to pay their bills for the next month if they lose their job. (Many experts say we should have enough money to pay the bills for three months, but let’s start with a month).

You have to wonder if these issues would be so prevalent if financial literacy courses were more widespread, and if more people took these courses.

The press release also notes school boards will decide which schools offer these classes. In a perfect world, you’d see it at every high school in South East Cornerstone.

Would anyone really complain if financial literacy became compulsory at some point in the school system?

Education is always evolving. The things that students are being taught in the classroom are constantly changing. We talk about concepts that are being introduced to the classroom, but financial literacy has always lagged behind.

Hopefully, those days are over.

This is not a call to scrap certain programs and courses at schools in order to make financial literacy a part of every students’ curriculum at some point. Nor are we saying that financial literacy would be more important than any other program introduced at schools.

But it’s about time we’ve had this in schools, and that if students question its validity, that parents will be quick to correct them.

After all, the concepts learned through financial literacy are going to be applied on a daily basis for the rest of their lives.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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