• An update to the maths curriculum in Ontario, Canada, will see students taught financial literacy.
  • The Minister for Education for Ontario wants to make sure all students have the skills they need to succeed in the workplace of the future.
  • The modernized curriculum also puts a focus on all students being able to access the maths skills they need for everyday life.

School students in the Canadian province of Ontario will soon be learning financial literacy as part of their regular curriculum.

The announcement, from the Minister of Education for Ontario, Stephen Lecce, is part of a four-year mathematics strategy, which has been created to boost young people’s chances in the workplace of the future.

The modernized curriculum also sees concepts such as interest, debt, savings, personal budgeting and price comparisons woven into maths lessons as part of an attempt to help young people manage their finances in later life.

It is hoped that the new curriculum will also help address what the official statement describes as an achievement gap and the creation of barriers that disadvantage students from historically marginalized groups, including Black and Indigenous students, those from low-income families, students with disabilities and those with special educational needs.

From coding to savings

Starting in September 2021, when the new academic year gets under way, maths lessons in schools across Canada’s most-populous province will include mandatory study of coding, data literacy, mathematical modelling and an emphasis on financial literacy.

“With an emphasis on real-world applications for mathematics, this course will teach students valuable fundamentals that will give them a competitive advantage when they graduate,” the minister said.

It’s a sentiment that is echoed in the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 report. Writing in the report’s preface, Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Forum, says: “We find ourselves at a defining moment: the decisions and choices we make today will determine the course of entire generations’ lives and livelihoods.”

In June 2020, Microsoft compiled a list of the most sought-after jobs, based on data from LinkedIn. That list shows the importance of tech-related skills and being comfortable with data. It includes roles like software developer, IT administrator, data analyst and financial analyst.

Opportunities for work and equality

The changes to the way maths is taught in Ontario modernize the curriculum last updated in 2005, more accurately aiming to reflect the job skills that are in demand now and for the future. As the chart below shows, youth unemployment in Canada - in common with other areas around the world - has rocketed as the pandemic hit.

“Youth unemployment in Canada remains well above the rate of the G7 average in 2020,” according to the statement on the teaching changes from the government of Ontario.