A University of Regina student is hoping a financial literacy initiative he started will be introduced into Saskatchewan high schools within the next five years.
Salmaan Moolla and Gulariz Taria started the Financial Foundations initiative through the ENACTUS Club at the University of Regina Business School. The initiative includes a Grade 12 high school class meant to prepare students for post-graduation finances and help them manage future debt.
This class is part of a larger initiative that includes teaching financial basics to high school students, university students and new Canadians.
“It started off as just a little thing; we were going to go into classes and talk to students about having good finances.” From there, they built the class.
Statistics Canada shows a personal finance class could be helpful. A 2012 Statistics Canada publication on household debt says that higher income and higher education are associated with an increased probability of holding a high level of debt. So even if a person is highly educated, without the right classes, they can have difficulties managing debt.
Moolla said the inspiration for the initiative was from his experience of taking one of the first personal finance classes at Campbell Collegiate. His passion for financial literacy continued in university.
“Things that we use every single day aren’t taught about in our high schools. We’re taught everything from trigonometry to annotating poems, but we’re not taught one of the most fundamental things that we need to live everyday,” Moolla said.
Moolla and Taria looked at Business 291: Personal Finance at the university as a base to adapt into a high school level class. It teaches the basics of personal finances. Then, they ran into difficulties as neither had developed a curriculum before.
Multiple university professors, teachers and students helped with the development of the curriculum and initiative in general.
Jae Won Hur is a university student who took Business 291 and helped design the initiative for non-university students. “My experience in that class was great. I got to learn about saving, budgeting and investing personally. I’m not a finance major so it gave me a good synopsis for my financial situation.”
Hur thinks the class should be taught in high schools because “the general population needs to be more aware of basic financial literacy.”
This class could be an elective for Grade 12 students. Moolla said as some have spares in their final year, it could fit into a student’s schedule.
In November 2017, School Board Trustee Adam Hicks proposed the class to all 28 provincial school boards at their annual meeting. The Business School made a video proposal and the school boards voted 92 per cent in favour of adding the curriculum in all Saskatchewan high schools.
Hicks got involved because he believes financial literacy needs to be taught in high schools. “Growing up, [financial literacy] is something that I missed out on and I feel like it’s a skill that needs to be taught to young people,” Hicks said.
The next step for the initiative is to be approved in the Saskatchewan Legislature for provincial funding. This cannot happen until a new Premier is elected and the legislature is in session.
Moolla said he hopes the government will approve funding and implement it soon. He said as more students graduate without the class, they go into the world without these vital skills. “As we keep going on, we keep losing years. It’s always ‘Okay, we’ll get to it next year.’”
In the meantime, Moolla is asking people to help get the initiative going. “It all starts with the parents and students going up to their teachers, going up to their principals, going up to their school board trustees and pushing for this, because if we don’t push for it, it won’t come to fruition. As much as we propose it and plan and do projects, until we get that real movement from people it’s not going to go anywhere.”