Canada and the Province of British Columbia
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) first reviewed existing initiatives and programmes in Canada in order to seek out the best programmes available and to avoid duplication. They planned to adapt the most successful ones for national use, where appropriate, and make them accessible in both official languages (English and French). The review led FCAC to a unique teaching resource developed by the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) called Planning 10, a programme that was being used successfully to teach a mandatory course on personal finances to Grade 10 students in British Columbia (BC). The FCAC partnered with the BCSC to build upon this initiative and extend it across Canada. The outcome is a multi-level education resource called “The City, A Financial Life Skills Resource”, launched in September 2008 and available in both English and French.13
“The City” consists of a free 11-part teacher-led web resource for youth aged 15 to 18 in schools and a self-directed online component. It aims to engage youth by using a web- based hands-on approach to learning. It makes financial concepts easy to understand and provides practice in real-life skills. Students use realistic financial documents to practice financial activities relating to topics such as budgeting, saving, credit and debt, insurance, taxes and investing. By the end of the course, they prepare a financial plan for the years after they leave school. The resource features two components: a classroom resource for teachers comprised of 11 learning modules and 10 interactive, self-directed online modules for teachers, youth and members of the general public. The online modules parallel the in-class modules, but adapt the activities for the online learning environment. All resources are designed to be self-contained and easy to use, whether individually, in an informal community setting or in a classroom.
Since FCAC has no formal role in the public school system, a variety of strategies have been adopted to promote acceptance of The City among educators. They created a cross-Canada teacher review committee to ensure that teachers would be comfortable with the teaching approach; that the content and level would be appropriate to learners aged from 15 to 18; and that the resource would meet prescribed learning outcomes for each province and territory. The FCAC worked with partners, such as the provincial securities commissions and the Canadian Bankers Association, to ensure that the activities accurately reflect current financial issues. Teachers can download complete inclass resources (including curriculum connections for their province or territory) or order a printed binder at cost.
Drawing on the experience of the BCSC in British Columbia, FCAC enrolled teacher champions in each province and territory - that is, teachers on contract to FCAC who work to increase awareness of The City and to promote its acceptance among teachers and education authorities. Teacher champions have approached their education authorities (except in the Province of Quebec) to discuss listing the resource as an approved teaching resource for the appropriate courses. As of September 2009, the resource was listed as an approved resource in five of thirteen jurisdictions, with an additional three jurisdictions piloting courses where The City is a component within the proposed new curriculum. For example, in New Brunswick, The City comprises one-third of a new course called Business Organisation Management that is being piloted in the 2009-10 school year. In Prince Edward Island, The City became part of the new Grade 10 Career Explorations and Opportunities course that was being piloted in selected English and French schools in 2009.
FCAC also works with the industry to promote The City. The Canadian Bankers Association promotes “The City” through its in-school initiative, “Your Money”, in which members of the association visit classrooms across the country to talk with students about financial issues. As of 31 March 2009, two hundred and fifty-eight seminars were held and a total of 7.451 students participated in these seminars.
The resource has been recommended by Curriculum Services Canada, a panCanadian standards agency for quality assurance in learning products and programmes, to support curriculum in the areas of personal development, career planning, mathematics, business, economics, family studies, consumer studies, enterprise and entrepreneurship studies and alternative education. It was also recommended by Le Centre Canadien de Leadership en Evaluation (Canadian Centre for Leadership in Evaluation, CLE) as a financial education resource to support courses taught in French language secondary schools throughout Canada.