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Teach money skills early

imageWhen Prakash Amarasooriya was in high school, both his parents lost their jobs in the financial crisis and he had to take on five part-time positions to help with the bills.

“In doing that I learned how to save money on my own,” recalls the now 23-year-old of the financial skills he gained.

Amarasooriya and other members of the Toronto Youth Cabinet are calling on the province to incorporate financial literacy into the Grade 10 careers curriculum so other can learn about managing money without such high stakes.

“If you don’t learn this skill, you will learn through trial and error and, unfortunately, if there’s a lot of errors then you might not be able to recover from them,.” says Amarasooriya.

The group has launched an online petition supported by 10 Toronto District School Board trustees and plan to take their cause to the Ontario legislature within a few months.

While some financial literacy programs exist within the TDSB, Amarasooriya said his group’s research found they were mostly in more affluent schools.

TDSB trustee Parthi Kandavel, Prakash Amarasooriya, left, and Toronto Youth Council executive director Tom Gleason hope teaching high school students about mortgages, debt and taxes will help give them the skills to set them up right in life. who supports the petition, said there is some financial content within math courses on things like compound interest but what’s missing is the link to kid’s lives.

“That exposure to financial literacy, from both an immediate money management perspective to long-term planning in terms of thinking about pensions, mutual funds, investments, property ownership, especially in our city, adds tremendous value.”

Heather Irwin, a spokes- person with the Ministry of Education, confirmed via email that staff would meet with members of the Toronto Youth Cabinet to discuss their proposal.

The ministry has tried to embed financial literacy throughout the curriculum over a number of ages and grades and not just one course, she stated.

“We are also reviewing the Grade 10 careers course, which will be an opportunity to embed additional financial literacy learning in this mandatory course,” she added.

Prakash Amarasooriya dressed for warm weather in moss Park.

By: May Warren, Metro Canada (Toronto)

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