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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Leading The Way Towards Safer Payments for Children

​Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI) and Mastercard are launching a groundbreaking guide on banking and payment products for minors. Unique in its approach, the 'Safer Payment Products for Minors' guide identifies recommended practices on how Financial Service Providers (FSPs) can develop age-appropriate payment products for minors; promoting responsible spending and financial decision-making whilst incorporating functionalities that allow for parental guidance towards a minor's financial autonomy.

At a time when governments, the private sector and civil society are doubling down on their efforts to build a more inclusive society, these new guidelines ensure the needs and safety of the next generation are part of the process. Financial, digital and gender inclusion are crucial elements to build a stable world in which everyone gets the chance to fulfill its potential. Minors are the foundation of tomorrow's society and need to be brought into the financial mainstream in a responsible manner.

Developed for national and international financial institutions, the guide is intended to help decision makers and product owners understand the responsibilities, needs and risks associated with this market.

In addition to the goal of supporting the creation of safe and appropriate products for minors, the guide seeks to foster dialogue between parent and child. In this way both Financial Service Providers and parents can guide minors towards financial inclusion, autonomy and responsibility.

Walt Macnee, Vice Chairman Mastercard says: "Today's minors are the adults of tomorrow. As they grow up, we need to ensure that they are prepared to fully participate in the formal and increasingly digital economy. By ensuring that the tools and products that they are given are age-appropriate, we contribute to that preparation."

Recognizing that the varying functional and supervisory requirements of financial products for minors vary depending on the age and development of young people, the paper advocates for an end objective of empowering minors to fully manage their own payment products and money.

The guide was created by Mastercard, Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI), ParentPay, nimbl and Mirador Digital, with contributions from a range of organizations in the financial sector.

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CYFI took part in FINFIN 2017 in Moscow in February 2017

Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI) took part in FINFIN 2017 Conference in Moscow, Russia on 16 February 2017. FINFIN is an annual international symposium, aiming to bring together financial institutions, governmental bodies, and expert community to exchange and share best practices and latest trends in the area of financial literacy and financial inclusion.

The Conference fosters an open dialog between market practitioners, government officials and researchers. It also provides an ideal environment to develop new initiatives that would ensure sustainable development of the industry, increase the availability and quality of financial services for the population, and promote financial literacy programs in order to improve the well-being of Russian citizens. 

The conference is traditionally organized by Russian Microfinance Centre and Citi Foundation, with the participation of representatives of the Bank of Russia and Ministry of Finance of Russian Federation, as well as international experts. The 2017 edition of FINFIN saw participation of many global stakeholders in the field, such as OECD, Central Bank of Portugal, UK Consumer Panel, CYFI and other representatives from CIS region and beyond. 

In 2017 CYFI contributed to the panel on the ways to improve financial literacy of Russian population, alongside the speakers from the Central Bank of Russia, Moscow State University, and various private sector initiatives. The wide consensus was reached that starting teaching children the basics of financial behaviour, such as saving, budgeting and spending, is essential from the first years of school. The role of the Ministry of Education in this process was defined as crucial by all participants of the panel. CYFI Regional Advisor Karina Avakyan shared the recent findings of financial education landscape for young people, emphasized the importance of active practicing of savings from the young age, and presented the recent publication by CYFI and World Savings Bank Institute (WSBI) on various Schoolbanking models.

On 15 February 2015 CYFI was also invited to take part in the informal roundtable, organized by the Russian Microfinance Centre (RMC) and Bank of Russia on the financial literacy programmes for SMMes and entrepreneurs, and their role in the overall financial literacy strategies and policies. CYFI representative shared some examples and best practices from CYFI network members and other countries in Europe.


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Queen Máxima joins Global Money Week celebration for youth

Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI) will collaborate with leading partners in the Netherlands on an event taking place on 30 March 2017 to highlight the importance of financial inclusion for youth.

The 6th edition of "Global Money Week", celebrated in 135 countries worldwide, takes place from 27 March - 2 April 2017. The Dutch Money Week, "Week van het geld", is organized during the same period. Both events provide an excellent opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of financial education and financial inclusion by connecting children and youth from around the world.

This special joint Global Money Week celebration is organized by CYFI in collaboration with the Money Wise Platform (platform Wijzer in geldzaken), Aflatoun International and partners. Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, honorary chair of the Money Wise Platform, will join the celebration.

Linking with the important issue of providing child and youth-friendly services, Queen Máxima will receive the pioneering document "Safer Payment Products for Minors – guiding minors towards financial autonomy," co-authored by CYFI and Mastercard in collaboration with partners. As the UN Secretary General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development and honorary patron of the G20's Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion, Queen Máxima is a leading global voice advancing universal access to affordable, effective and safe financial services in order to strengthen human development, especially among the poor. In The Netherlands she supports financial inclusion particularly in the areas of financial literacy and financial education.


Moderated by renowned Dutch TV presenter and global traveler Floortje Dessing, the event includes an interactive "Trip Around the World" connecting Dutch and international children and youth to share insights on what the Global Money Week theme "Learn. Save. Earn" means to young people in their country, and addressing the issue: does money make you happy? During various interactive workshops, school students will focus on key themes such as saving and borrowing, digital payments, tools for entrepreneurs, and social and financial education.

In the afternoon, international stakeholders will join a round table discussion on "Digital Finance and Consumer Protection Implications for Youth (digital natives)." Panelists will discuss opportunities, challenges, risks and solutions related to digital financial inclusion of the young generation.


Official press release from the Royal House of the Netherlands can be found (in Dutch) here.

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CYFI receives continued support from players of the People's Postcode Lottery!

CYFI is delighted to have attended the 2017 People's Postcode Lottery annual Charity Gala where it was announced that £66.3 million was awarded to charities and good causes in 2016 - thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery.

CYFI is one of 69 charities that benefitted from this incredible funding, with £225,000 amount received in 2016 alone.  The news of the funding total was shared at the annual event, on Tuesday 24 January, at Prestonfield House in Edinburgh. The Charity Gala celebrated the phenomenal achievements of charities working across Great Britain and internationally that are supported by players of People's Postcode Lottery.

The event was attended by HRH Prince Charles, Sir David Attenborough, with entertainment provided by stars from the UK music scene.

This amazing contribution enables CYFI to further our efforts in establishing pilots around initiatives such as SchoolBank and scaling programmes which support youth financial capabilities across the countries in which we work.


Clara Govier, Head of Charities at People's Postcode Lottery, said: "Our Gala is such a special time in People's Postcode Lottery's calendar where we come together and celebrate the incredible amount of money raised by our players and the fantastic work carried out by the supported charities as a result of the support. We continue to be overwhelmed by the incredible support of our players and thank them for their funding."



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Empowering children and young people for a sustainable future - Aflatoun International Meeting 2016

Children make up half of the nearly 900 million people living below the global poverty line, according to UNICEF, and 124 million children and adolescents worldwide do not attend school.

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Workshop on youth empowerment at the Annual MFC Conference 2016

Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI) was once again leading the discussion on the youth segment at the annual conference of its strategic partner – at the 19th Microfinance Centre Conference that took place 23-24 June 2016 in Tirana, Albania.

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CYFI consultation on guidelines for making payment products safer for children and youth

CYFI have developed a set of guidelines for Financial Service Providers on how to make their payment products safer for children and youth and wants to hear your opinion!

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CYFI collaborates on workshop on financial inclusion for young people in Ukraine

CYFI together with its project partner University of Banking and the National Bank of Ukraine held a seminar in Kyiv on July 8th on the role of public-private partnerships and the role of the private and civil society sectors in improving financial literacy and access to basic financial services for young people in Ukraine.

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CYFI ranked among top NGOs in the World

The fourth edition of Top 500 NGOs World has ranked CYFI in the top 50 of the world’s top charitable organizations. Recognizing the Child and Youth Finance Network’s collaborative approach, Jean Christophe Nothias, Editor of NGO Advisor, noted that CYFI’s ranking ‘reflects not only immense efforts from CYFI’s team and partners but the organization’s deep commitment to create a more inclusive world’.

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CYFI Network Stars: Thea Handumon

Continuing our focus on the role of youth participation in acheiving economic empowerment for children and young people, this month's CYFI Network Star is Thea Handumon! Thea has been a very active youth member of the CYFI network in recent years - thanks for all of your suppport Thea!

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YES Cameroon launches financial education training for 6000 micro-entrepreneurs

6000 microfinance entrepreneurs are expected to benefit from a financial literacy project launched on June 14, 2016 by the Youth Employment Services (YES) Cameroon and the Association of Entrepreneurs in Cameroon (AEC). The project beneficiaries will be selected from all 10 regions of Cameroon and will undergo a five-day intensive training on topics including, budgeting, debt management, savings, negotiations, insurance and micro-credit. They will also receive training on effective entrepreneurship.

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CYFI joins ParentPay to launch financial awareness solution for youth

On 14 June, Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) joined Network partner, ParentPay, the market-leading online payment service for schools and families, for their launch of nimbl, a new financial platform aimed at encouraging financial awareness and independence amongst young people via the use of a prepaid MasterCard® debit card and smartphone app.

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Network Collaboration: Reflecting on working with CYFI

A key part of CYFI and the Child and Youth Finance Network’s approach to ensuring young people worldwide can become economically empowered citizens is through collaboration with our global Network.

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CYFI SchoolBank workshop success in Zimbabwe

On 23 and 24 May Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI), in collaboration with the People’s Own Savings Bank (POSB) Zimbabwe, organized a SchoolBank Workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe. The two-day event was attended 25 participants, including branch managers of POSB Zimbabwe and employees of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Education. It was aimed at providing the participating institutions, who will be engaged in a SchoolBank Zimbabwe pilot, an understanding of the principles and operational modules for a SchoolBank project.

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Developing child and youth-friendly financial services in Zambia

Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) in collaboration with the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) organised a two-day product development workshop on May 9 and 10, 2016, at Protea Hotel Lusaka. The objective of the workshop was to train Zambia´s financial services providers (FSPs) on how to develop innovative, appropriate, and cost effective savings accounts for children and youth. It also aimed at training participants on how to link product portfolios for children and youth to financial education.

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