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Financial literacy in high school

Students at school 
Seven in 10 high school students say knowledge of personal finances is a must and want financial education in the classroom.  

pdf file Download the full 2012 Youth financial literacy study
pdf file Download the graphic Financial literacy in high school
Toronto, ON, August 29, 2012 – By the time Ontario’s teens finish high school, most will have begun to navigate the world of earning and spending money, but new research reveals that they may not be prepared with the money management skills they need – and want – for life after graduation.  

This survey is part of IEF’s efforts to prepare future generations to manage their finances. The study monitors high school students’ financial confidence and behaviour, their preferences for financial education and identifies those financial topics of the most interest to students.

Key findings:
  • Seventy per cent of Ontario high school students say that learning how to manage their personal finances is important or very important.
  • Sixty-nine per cent of students think personal finance lessons should be taught in the classroom, an increase of 12 percentage points from a similar study done in 2009.
  • Only four in 10 respondents feel they are somewhat or very prepared for managing their personal finances after high school, and about one-quarter say their schools provide them with most or all of the financial information they need. The feeling of being prepared was highest when the schools provided most or all of the available information.
  • High school students who felt their school provided most or all of the personal finance information they need are twice as likely to "always budget" (29 per cent), compared to other high school students (15 per cent). In most schools 42 per cent of students "never budget." This number drops to 18 per cent in schools thought to provide all or most of the personal finance information students need.
  • 55 per cent of students admit their knowledge of money could be better.
  • Students cite paying for education after high school as their biggest money worry, yet only three out of 10 are actually saving for school. Instead, clothes, entertainment, cash and gifts top the list for savings across Grades 9 through 12.

Helping teachers prepare the next generation

Building on a decade of experience working with teachers to inspire students about financial literacy, IEF has launched a new suite of entertaining and interactive teaching tools. The lesson plans and tools were developed in partnership with the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto and are designed to teach students how to apply relevant financial concepts to their lives. 

Lesson plans start in Grade 4, where students develop financial vocabulary, use financial symbols and terminology, identify the forms of currency and make simple purchases in simulated situations, to Grade 12, where classes become fluent in financial terminology, create complex personal and family budgets and analyze the role of individual responsibility in saving, among other money lessons. These teaching resources are available for free at, a new website designed to help teachers quickly and easily access financial literacy tools. 


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