The Saskatchewan government has announced changes to high school graduation requirements, including a mandatory financial literacy course.
The province said in a news release that the changes will be implemented for the 2024-2025 school year.
New requirements will include a Grade 10 mandatory financial literacy course, the release said. Financial literacy was previously offered as an elective.
The province said these changes will align with a majority of jurisdictions in Canada.
The province also announced changes to the number of credits required in some existing courses. Students will soon be required to take three English courses instead of five and two social science courses instead of three.
The changes mean students will have more electives to choose from, but will still only need 24 credits to graduate.
Educator welcomes changes
The announcement comes after educators and supporters campaigned for mandatory financial literacy in schools.
Cindy Lowe, president of the Saskatchewan Teachers Business Association, organized a petition earlier this year calling for the change, It received more than 1,100 signatures.
Lowe said the announcement is a win for high school students across the province.
"It means they will be better prepared for managing their personal finances now and into adulthood," she said. "Financial mistakes, you don't want to learn by doing. Unfortunately people do."
While the government has not shared plans for financial literacy courses before Grade 10, Lowe said students within this age group are a good focus.
"I do believe the earlier we get to students the better," she said. "Students are often getting wages earlier, they're getting gift money earlier, they're consumers earlier."
Lowe said that while some students can learn financial literacy at home, learning inside of a classroom with an instructor is the most effective way to become more financially literate.
Cindy Lowe is a financial literacy educator and pushed for the change. (Submitted by Cindy Lowe)
Government says labour market was a factor
The Saskatchewan government said it consulted with multiple organizations before making the decision, including the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation, First Nation Education Authorities and post-secondary institutions.
Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill said the labour market was also a factor.
"We have heard from the education sector that students need to be prepared for a rapidly changing labour market by focusing on the development of transferable skills in areas such as financial literacy," Cockrill said.
The province also said that additional elective courses are needed to help improve a student's overall education and assist with their transition into the workforce after graduation.
"Allowing students more personal choice in their learning to better prepare them for their futures and getting Saskatchewan back to basics is a positive step forward," Cockrill said.
After the announcement, Lowe reflected back on the petition she launched earlier this year.
"It got people talking and I think it gave people a voice," she said.
Lowe said she is hopeful about what the change will mean for younger generations.
"Now the response is going to be 'I am doing so well because I was taught this in high school.'"