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Vital lesson in financial literacy

Book seeks to teach basics to Grade 10s

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Manitoba students will receive a more enhanced education in financial literacy with the latest edition of a book called Money and Youth: A Guide to Financial Literacy available to every Grade 10 student in the province.

The 15th edition of the book was launched Wednesday at an event at Westwood Collegiate.

Produced by the Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE), the initiative receives significant support from Winnipeg-based Investors Group and Manitoba's Department of Education.

Gary Rabbior, president of the CFEE, said Manitoba is a leader in the field and other provinces are now using the Manitoba model, which is starting to include an enhanced financial literacy curriculum for grades 4 to 12.

Since the CFEE was formed 15 years ago, 300,000 copies of the guide have been distributed to students across the country whenever requested.

This is the first time -- and the only province -- where every student in a particular grade will receive the book.

Murray Taylor, president of Investors Group, said he and his company are passionate about its support of the CFEE and has been a key partner in the distribution of the 200-page guide for many years.

"We come across this all the time," he said about the lack of financial literacy and the fact many people have never had the chance to learn it. "We find it really makes a difference in thinking through a budget and doing financial planning. The more young people can be skilled in that area, the better."

Taylor said research has shown limiting that instruction to "consumer" math classes is not the best approach.

His company has helped hook the CFEE up with the Department of Education in Manitoba, which is in the process of doing pilot projects with 30 teachers in three school divisions in grades 4 to 7 to sprinkle financial-literacy components into social studies, English and geography classes.

Aileen Najduch, assistant deputy minister of education, said Investors Group has partnered with the province to access the best material to use to teach the material.

"It's all about having good resources to work with," she said. "Teachers are happy to include the content but they want relevant, engaging material to help them meet curriculum outcomes."

Rabbior said the CFEE continues to experience support from teachers, school boards, parents and, most importantly, the students themselves.

"Kids are facing more money decisions and they have access to more money than they used to," Rabbior said. "And the opportunities to make mistakes are greater and the consequences of mistakes are greater. For instance, if you make a mistake at an early age, that effects your credit rating or reputation, it can be a legacy that will have an impact for a long time."

Aaron Ryback, a Grade 12 student at Westwood Collegiate, said he has appreciated the financial-literacy components in his Grade 12 math class.

He realizes his parents aren't going to pay for everything as he gets older.

"I just bought a vehicle," he said. "I know I have to pay for gas and insurance and I have to save up for that. That means I can't go out for lunch every day with friends and blow money on things I don't need."

The book and accompanying website are also designed to be an excellent tool for parents to be able to play a bigger role in teaching their children about money.

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 21, 2013 A16

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