CYFI News & Blog

Latest news and articles from Child & Youth Finance and the CYF Movement Network

Raising the Profile of Economic Citizenship in Education and Development Discourse

A significant part of CYFI's advocacy agenda has been to put economic citizenship for children and youth at the forefront of policy discourse and programming aimed at increasing financial capability and economic opportunities for young people.

Recently, CYFI published an article in the development education journal Policy & Practice entitled "The Role of Economic Citizenship Education in Advancing Global Citizenship". The article focuses on how to provide children and youth with the appropriate skills and capabilities required to create a more equal and sustainable world for future generations. It presents the concept of Economic Citizenship Education (ECE) and the importance of combining financial, social and livelihoods education for the empowerment of children and youth throughout the world. The article argues that the combination of financial inclusion and education is vital for successfully empowering children and youth. Throughout the article, this concept is linked to global citizenship, education for sustainable development, development education and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to show its importance to contemporary discourse on education and youth development. 

These themes build on CYFI's other publication specifically linking economic citizenship to the SDGs, particularly those focusing on poverty reduction, education, gender empowerment, economic growth and peaceful, sustainable societies.

There are currently 1.8 billion young people in the world, representing 25 per cent of the global population, with 87 per cent of this youth population residing in developing countries. These figures are projected to increase in the coming years with both challenges and opportunities for youth development. The challenges include the fact that, while children make up around a third of the global population, almost 47 per cent of those struggling to survive on less than $1.25 a day are 18 years old or younger. There are also 58 million children around the world that are not enrolled in school, which threatens their ability to sustain themselves in the future.

Within their economic and social environment, education plays a vital role in providing these young people with the financial, social and livelihood competences and opportunities needed to thrive and prosper. It is imperative that education delivers meaningful and useful skills to children and youth, and that it remains an integral part of their personal and professional development. If children acquire the skills and experiences of managing financial resources from an early age onward, it will enhance their awareness of financial risks, lower their economic vulnerability and allow them to make more responsible financial decisions. In addition, the inclusion of social and citizenship education ensures that young people develop financial capabilities that are rooted in socially responsible attitudes and behaviours.

The political and economic decisions of world leaders today and tomorrow not only dictate the future of world economies but also the future sustainability of societies and the environment. It is therefore extremely important that these decisions are made in a holistic and responsible manner, balancing financial, social and environmental considerations. ECE is critical to the development of global citizenship by creating an environment where children and youth are able to fully realise their social and economic potential and contribute to community development, without discrimination of any kind. These are the essential economic citizenship competencies that will provide the foundation for the next generation of political, business and social leaders.


Photo credit: Giacomo Pirozzi for Aflatoun International

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OECD PISA Results 2015: Outcomes and new insights support CYFI’s vision

Author: Wessel van Kampen, Managing Director CYFI​ 


The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) recently released the results on financial literacy from 2015. CYFI attended the results launch event in Paris.

In addition to testing students' skills in mathematics, science and reading, the 2012 and 2015 editions of PISA also explored students' experience with, and knowledge about, money, providing an overall picture of 15-year-olds' ability to apply financial knowledge and skills to real-life situations. In 2015, around 48 000 students participated in the financial literacy test, representing about 12 million 15-year-olds in 15 participating OECD and non-OECD countries. 


Supporting CYFI's vision

CYFI has been advocating for an integrated approach of financial education and financial inclusion for the past five years, but until now little empirical evidence seamed to support such claims. The 2015 PISA results, alongside with other research and experiments recently led by the CYFI Secretariat (such as the implementation of SchoolBank projects around the world and the research led in seven East European countries on the attitude of youth towards the financial system) supports CYFI's claim and call for more attention to programs which integrate the two components.

The inclusion of a financial literacy assessment in PISA is the result of the unique collaboration between the Education Division and the International Network for Financial Education (INFE) of the OECD. It is based on the profound understanding of the fact that young people in both OECD and non-OECD countries are already involved in financial systems, are taking part in increasingly complex financial transactions, and are going to enter a financial work environment in their adulthood that is far more complex than that of their parents or teachers. Children are also already deeply engaged with money from a young age – more than 60 percent of 15-year-olds in participating OECD countries earn money from some type of work activity, 56 percent already have a bank account, and 19 percent have a prepaid debit card. At the same time, the results reveal that less than one in three students have the necessary skills to manage a bank account!

When compared to the results from 2012, only Russia and Italy have made any progress in increasing the financial literacy of students. This is of course a distressing result, considering the ever increasing engagement of youth with money, and the amount of work that has been done in the field over the past years. However, positive outcomes reveal that across all countries and economies, very few gender differences were detected in the levels of financial literacy among the 15-year olds surveyed. This finding is in contrast with the results of many adult financial literacy surveys, where women in most countries consistently score lower on financial literacy indicators than men. While the nature of this difference in financial literacy between adult males and females is not yet fully understood, it will be interesting to see whether this gender gap will continue when this next generation reaches adulthood or if we are on a path to closing the gender gap both in terms of financial inclusion and financial literacy.


Furthering youth financial literacy

The 2015 PISA results also confirmed that practical applications of financial knowledge and behaviours have a strong impact on financial literacy levels. Evidence shows that there is a positive relationship between performance in financial literacy and holding a bank account or receiving gifts of money. Moreover, students who are more financially literate are more motivated to use financial products, and perhaps more confident in doing so.

There is a growing perception in the field that students develop better financial understanding, skills and habits not only through talking to parents and observing their behaviour, or simply by receiving financial education lessons in class, but especially via personal experiences and learning by doing. This is also an essential element of the SchoolBanks implemented by CYFI and its network partners.

Another interesting result of PISA is linked to the socio-economic background of the student. Socio-economically advantaged students score 89 points higher than disadvantaged students, on average across the OECD, which is an equivalent to more than one PISA proficiency level. Even after looking at students with similar math and reading scores, disadvantaged students from poorer families are about twice as likely as advantaged students to be low performers in financial literacy. These findings support once again CYFI's focus to integrate financial education in the formal school curriculum across the board, in order to tackle those socio-economic differences early on.

The results of the 2015 PISA assessments could have implications on a series of initiatives to be led in the following years:

-The importance of impact evaluations of financial education initiatives in and outside of school
-The need of providing young people with safe opportunities to learn by experience and by using basic financial products;
-The need to target parents with financial education initiatives at the same time as young people;
-The necessity of addressing the needs of low-performing and economically disadvantaged students;
-The importance of providing equal opportunities for learning to boys and girls;
-And finally, the imperative of integrating financial education into the school curriculum and providing effective and scalable teacher training.

Detailed results, country overviews and more data can be found in PISA 2015 Results (Volume IV): Students' Financial Literacy.

We encourage our network partners from various sectors to look into these results, to learn from the experience of other countries as well in the design and implementation of financial education programs for children in their countries. CYFI can provide support and guidance in this effort. You can follow the conversation on Twitter: #OECDPISA, and INFE-OECD


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CYFI and EFSE DF publish joint study on financial behaviour and knowledge of youth in South-Eastern Europe

CYFI and the Development Facility of the European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE DF) have published the final report of the study about financial behaviour and knowledge of young people in 7 countries of South-Eastern Europe (Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro and Serbia). 

Financed by EFSE DF, the study was conducted in the second quarter of 2016 and included in-depth focus groups and interviews with children and youth between 10 and 24 years old, as well as wide quantitative study of more than 2,000 children and youth people across 7 countries.

The study has showed that the level of financial literacy of youth is quite low, mainly related to a low understanding of traditional products, and the fact that the main sources of information and understanding of finances are derived from family and household experiences.

In the region as a whole, children and young people reported a positive saving behaviour. Having a piggy bank and using it as the primary source for saving money was the most popular way of saving across the region.

The study also revealed the experience of children and youth with various financial products, and some positive effects have been noticed in the results. Youth that have personal experience with owning and using their own bank account was found to be stronger with money management and saving habits, showed better perceptions of the importance of savings, and had deeper knowledge about financial products and formal financial education. The full report can be accessed here.

CYFI would like to thank the representatives of the Central Bank of Montenegro, Association of Serbian Banks, Ministry of Education and Science of Serbia, Institute of Educational Sciences of Moldova, Centre for Conflict Resolution – Macedonia for supporting the organization of data collection for the study. We would also like to thank Bank of Albania, National Bank of the Republic of Macedonia, Central Bank of Montenegro, Central Bank of the Republic of Kosovo, National Bank of Serbia and the National Bank of Moldova for their contributions and support.

For more information about the methodological setup of the study and for dissemination of the results, please contact CYFI Secretariat for further support.

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Child-friendly Product Development Workshop hosted in Malawi

​ CYFI, in cooperation with the hosting partner the Reserve Bank of Malawi, organized a Product Development Workshop for financial institutions in Malawi, that took place on 12th and 13th April in Blantyre, Malawi. 

The workshop had attendance and delegates from the major commercial banks, as well as the deposit-taking microfinance institution. In addition, the workshop was joined by officials from the Reserve Bank of Malawi who provided input and feedback from the viewpoint of the financial sector regulator. The workshop was moderated by CYFI experts, and covered topics such as the importance of financial inclusion for young people, needs and wants of youth, product design and marketing channels, and other aspects related to the development of savings and current accounts for children and youth in Malawi.

The workshop provided a platform to start discussions on the importance of financial education and financial inclusion of young people in Malawi, and to guide the local financial institutions in the process of developing child and youth-friendly banking products. The two-day workshop served as a space to exchange best practices and experiences, and present case studies that were achieved across the world, and especially within the Africa and SADC regions. 

At the end of the workshop, one of the participants stated "we recommend a shift on the legal perspective, and our institution can be one of the key drivers of the policy change", and another stated "if we can support and take youth seriously, the sky is the limit". The participants' evaluation of the workshop received the score of 4.5 and above on many topics, such as the presentation of topics, the usefulness of the presentations as future reference, and knowledgeability and responsiveness of the trainers.

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Financial Education + Life Skills = Girl Power

Adolescent girls are one of the world's most economically vulnerable groups. Compared to boys their age, they frequently have limited opportunities to gain the education, knowledge, resources, and skills that can lead to economic advancement.

Girls do not only need knowledge, skills, and a responsible attitude to manage money in a smart way; to be fully empowered, they also need to increase their self-confidence to support their ambitions. That is why CYFI partner, Aflatoun International, collaborates with Plan International and Credit Suisse's Financial Education Girls Program to improve the financial knowledge and life skills of approximately 100,000 girls in Brazil, China, India and Rwanda. CYFI contributes to and supports the research agenda of the program through the Credit Suisse Financial Education for Girls Advisory Group.

In addition to the program implementation, the partnership carries out research on the effectiveness of financial education for adolescent girls. The results of a recent literature review shows that the most promising financial education programs combine both social and financial elements. So in order to be most effective, financial education programs targeting adolescent girls should also include non-economic elements, such as life skills, interpersonal networking, communication, personality development as well as sexual and reproductive health education.

Research findings are increasingly available about the effectiveness of financial education. However, many questions remain. One of these questions is how to best involve communities in financial education programs. This is easier said than done. Financial education and life skills programs are recommended to encourage communities to engage in conversations about economic empowerment of girls, challenging harmful biases and replacing them with behaviours that foster inclusive and equitable education and labor markets for girls and boys. Ongoing research looks at the contextual factors – including social norms around gender - that financial education and life skills training programs need to understand and address. The program intends to publish the initial results of this country level research in the summer of 2017 so stay tuned!

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