Friday, September 30, 2011

Financial Education Impacts Economy

It's official. Financial education is good for the economy. The Boston Consulting Group has just released the results of an independent study on the impact of Canada's non-profit Junior Achievement Program (JA) on the Canadian economy. It turns out that teaching students in grades five through twelve about business and finance pays big dividends. Here are just a few of the tangible results.
  • For every $1 spent, JA Canada returns $45 to Canadian society.
  • $425 million dollars per year of economic activity can be attributed to JA alumni.
  • JA alumni are 50% more likely to start a business.
  • JA alumni on average earn 50% more than those who do not participate in the program.
  • JA programs reach 250,000 students per year and are delivered free of charge.
    What is Junior Achievement?
    I spoke with Chris Hindle, Marketing and Communications Manager for Junior Achievement BC, to find out what this largely volunteer organization is all about and how their activities fit into the financial literacy movement. Chris began by expressing one of JA's central messages: to build financially literate citizens you need to start with youth.

    "Youth are at the centre of the financial responsibility solution," said Chris, referring to a presentation that JA made to the Task Force for Financial Literacy in 2010. He added, "Our recommendation is that early intervention encourages positive financial behaviours." He also acknowledged that while financial education is important, our kids are just not getting it at school. JA, he said, has a solution.

    Their solution is to offer a selection free financial educational programs that are delivered in classrooms by volunteer business people. According to their fact sheet, more than three million Canadian students have participated in JA programs since 1955. Today, through it's seventeen charters in ten provinces, JA volunteers reach over a quarter of a million students every year. Their programs include: Business Basics for grades five through eight, Investment Strategies and Economics for Success for grades nine and ten as well as more advanced business programs for grades eleven and twelve.

    What I love about JA is its non-profit, volunteer approach to financial education. I've even met a few local entrepreneurs who volunteer as teachers. Their passion for business and financial literacy are inspiring. But, how do we get our ministries of education and school boards to pick up on that enthusiasm so that every student, not just the ones who happen to have a JA program come to their school, can be better equipped to deal with the financial realities and responsibilities of citizenship?

    Well...while we wait for our decision-makers to figure out that financial education makes a significant impact on the economy, please stop by the Junior Achievement Canada website and find out how to get involved as a volunteer, make a donation or book a program for your school.

    Financial Literacy News
    Copyright 2011. Laura Thomas. All Rights Reserved.
    For reprint information contact moneyme at telus dot net.

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