At least one student in Vancouver is making sure that literacy extends beyond learning to read and write.
For R.J. Guatlo, 15, financial literacy is vital to everyday living and needs to be taught with a sense of fun to appeal to students.
"It needs to be taught as part of a fun activity, not a lecture," he explained.
The Grade 10 student at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School, was the third-place winner of a financial literacy contest. Organized by the Credit Counseling Society, the contest asked youth under 18 to explain how they would educate others about money management.
Guatlo's submission detailed how greater openness is needed to engage students in money matters. Reflecting the reality of many youth, he recounted how finances are not often discussed at home and how many students are unaware of the connection between work and financial fluidity.
"I really had no sense of how hard my parents had to work for their money," he said.
To drive home the importance of saving, Guatlo advocates introducing basic financial literacy activities as early as Grade 4 and letting students manage their own Monopoly-style money at school.
"It's definitely something that should be taught at a young age," he explained.
Many of the submissions received by the Credit Counseling Society came from Sir Charles Tupper where veteran teacher George Tylor had his students enter the contest as part of an assignment.
"The contest was an excellent learning tool about financial literacy for my students," said Tylor, who frequently uses media articles and current events to teach his students about money management.
"It certainly provides greater credibility and currency," he explained.
As the winner of the third-place prize, Guatlo was awarded a $1000 RESP and an iPod Touch.