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Ontario introducing financial literacy as new high school graduation requirement

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The Ontario government says that financial literacy and greater exposure to “priority economic sector” career options will be part of an “overhauling” of high school programs and requirements over the next two years.

“It's critical that students know how to create and manage a budget to save for a home of their retirement and how to protect themselves from financial fraud," Minister of Education Stephen Lecce said at an announcement at the Toronto Stock Exchange Thursday. "Too many parents and employers and students themselves tell me that young people are graduating without the sufficient financial literacy or those basic life skills."

He said financial literacy and home economics will be part of a "back-to-basics" approach in the classroom.

"By elevating life skills in the classroom, along with better career education and higher math standards on educators, we are setting up every student for life-long success. Our bottom line: ensuring students graduate with practical learning that leads them to better jobs and bigger paycheques,” he said.

Starting in 2025, students will have to complete a new financial literacy requirement as part of their Grade 10 math course in order to “demonstrate practical skills and proficient application of knowledge in financial literacy skills.”

The component will show students how to do things like create and manage a household budget, save for a home or asset, and protect themselves from financial fraud, the ministry says.

The financial literacy requirement will be developed by educators and financial literacy experts at TVO, in partnership with TFO and EQAO, the government said.

Students will have to obtain a score of 70 per cent or higher to meet the graduation requirement. Those who don’t pass will be able to attempt the component once more within their Grade 10 math course before they have to cover the material through “credit recovery“ an option which helps students who failed a course to successfully complete the concepts.

Starting in September 2024, students entering Grade 9 will need to earn a Grade 9 or 10 Technological Education Credit in order to obtain their diploma.

Starting that year, the EQAO math test in Grade 9 will comprise 10 per cent or more of a student's final math mark. The province says this standardizes a practice currently used by many teachers already.

The province says it is also revamping the guidance and career education policy and program, which was last updated in 2013 in order to ensure that it is “responsive to the way various professions have evolved over the last decade, and how they will change in the future.”

Boards will receive “clear expectations" on creating modernized guidance and career education programs for grades 7 to 12 and for providing students exposure to skilled trades and “priority economic sectors.”

The province says this will be accompanied by an investment of up to $14 million in 2024-25 for career coaching for grade 9 and 10 students in public publicly funded schools.

The government says that starting in the next school year, new career coaches “with direct experience in high demand economic sectors" will complement the work of guidance counsellors and teachers in small group sessions of fewer than six.

The required number of credits to obtain an Ontario secondary school diploma (OSSD) will remain 30.

In addition to changes around the high school graduation requirements, the province is also requiring that all applicants to the Ontario College of Teachers pass, a math proficiency test starting in February 2025.

Lecce said the government is also launching consultations to reintroduce a "modernized" home economics program.

"Some of the practical life skills students may want to learn that we hear so often from the parents and employers and from students is the need to learn how to cook and understand good nutrition; basic skills like changing a tire, sewing a button, signing a check, knowing how to shop on a budget and applying basic first aid," Lecce said. "We're making these changes to help students prepare for a life even well beyond the classroom."

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