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Canadian youth earned an “A” in financial literacy, according to a global report from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that ranks the financial competency of 15-year-old students in participating countries worldwide.

Canada scored second — tied with Belgium — among the 15 countries that participated in the triennial survey conducted by the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).

With an 87% score, Canadian youth surpassed the study’s overall average of 78% when performing tasks to demonstrate their financial knowledge and skills, many of which were learned primarily in the classroom.

“The PISA results show that our teachers and parents are doing an excellent job of educating young people about money,” says Doug Currie, chairman of the Council of Ministers of Education of Canada and minister of education, early learning and culture for Prince Edward Island.

“This is very good news because financial literacy should not be an afterthought in education — it’s vital to planning the future and establishing a young person’s autonomy,” he adds.

The global report suggests that Canadian youth are off to a good start as four out of five students who participated in the study said they would not purchase something they wanted if they were low on funds. Instead, they would either save to buy later or not make the purchase at all.

Good financial habits developed in childhood — such as saving and spending within one’s means — correlate to financial wellbeing in adulthood, according to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC).

The report also shows that school isn’t the only opportunity to receive a good financial education. Survey participants who work odd jobs or handle their own bank accounts also displayed strong financial literacy.

In fact, students with a bank account, on average, performed better than students without one. In this area, Canadian youth are in fairly good standing as 78% of 15-year-old students have a bank account compared with the OECD average of 56%.

Parents also played an important role in teaching youth about money. Canadian students who discuss financial matters with parents once or twice a week, for example, received top scores in the assessment.

This is welcome news for the FCAC as it has been encouraging parents and their children to discuss money matters as part of its efforts to improve financial literacy in Canada.

“I am very pleased by Canada’s PISA results,” says Jane Rooney, financial literacy leader at FCAC. “They demonstrate the importance of learning about money matters at home, at school, and through hands-on experience. … These factors set the foundation for our youth to become financial responsible adults.”

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